Media mogul Oprah Winfrey shocked the world by admitting that she uses Ozempic, a weight loss drug used by many celebrities to manage their weight. Now, it seems that there might be a “financial incentive” for her 180-degree pivot and endorsement.
Health and life coach Jillian Michaels believes that “The Color Purple” producer’s business savvy always kicks in when she stands behind products.
“Oprah has a financial incentive with Ozempic,” the celebrity fitness instructor said in an interview with Page Six.
Adding “Oprah, I believe, is one of the biggest shareholders of WeightWatchers, and WeightWatchers is now in the Ozempic business.”
Winfrey obtained a 10 percent share in the WeightWatchers company in 2015, a program that she said helped her not only lose as much as 40 pounds but allows her to eat foods she likes while managing her weight.
“I believe [WeightWatchers] bought a company that provides access to these drugs, now there is a financial interest in these drugs,” Michaels said. “I think it’s important to put that out there right off the bat.”
ight now Oprah’s WeightWatchers stock isn’t making her much money. On Jan. 19, WW International, the parent company of WeightWatchers, experienced another decline in its shares as concerns over the impact of GLP-1 drugs, such as Ozempic. The stock saw a significant decrease of 17.1%, The Motley Fool reported.
WW Diving Deeper into the Weight Loss Business
At the end of the fourth quarter of 2023, WeightWatchers CEO Sima Sistani sat down on CNN and explained the company’s decision to include prescription medicine in its offerings.
While WeightWatchers won’t profit directly from weight loss medication prescriptions, members will pay an extra $99 monthly charge, in addition to the standard monthly fee, for access to the clinic providing them with the drugs, Time reported.
“What we are now saying is we know better and it’s on us to do better so that we can help people feel positive and destigmatize this conversation around obesity,” Sistani said in December 2023.
According to the brand, it is providing “doctor-led access to prescription medication,” including the Type 2 diabetes medication Ozempic to those who buy into its program.
WeightWatchers medical director, Dr. Spencer Nadolsky, states that eligible members, in accordance with Food and Drug Administration guidelines and approval by WeightWatchers clinicians, may be prescribed various medications, Inc. reports, in addition to Ozempic.
Those drugs include Wegovy (semaglutide), Zepbound (tirzepatide), and Contrave (bupropion-naltrexone), all FDA-approved for obesity, and Mounjaro (tirzepatide), Trulicity (dulaglutide), or Rybelsus (oral semaglutide), specifically for certain diabetes.
While the company has not said it, there is big money in this space. Morgan Stanley estimates that by 2030, weight-management medications could generate $77 billion annually in the market.
Before the deal, Winfrey had previously been very vocal about using weight loss drugs, saying that using them is a quick cheat for those on a weight loss journey.
“When I first started hearing about the weight loss drugs,” Winfrey said in September 2023. “I was going through knee surgery, and I felt, ‘I’ve got to do this on my own’ … because if I take the drug, that’s the easy way out.”
But there has been a change. Sistani pointed to her famous shareholder’s advance on the use of drugs to maintain her weight and “stands by” the WeightWatchers board and their “business vision” and “program offerings,” in an interview with NPR.
Shortly after those remarks, Winfrey issued a public statement regarding Ozempic, saying, “I now use it as I feel I need it, as a tool to manage not yo-yoing.”
Adding, “The fact that there’s a medically approved prescription for managing weight and staying healthier, in my lifetime, feels like relief, like redemption, like a gift, and not something to hide behind and once again be ridiculed for.”
Winfrey said that at this point of her journey, she was “done with the shaming from other people and particularly myself” for doing things to feel better about how they look.