Josh Gates’ Experience with Semaglutide

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The Cost and Impact of a Viral Drug


Josh Gates, known for his insightful explorations and compelling storytelling, decided to embark on a personal journey in 2019 with a new drug promising to help him lose weight by reducing his appetite. This drug, Ozempic, which has the generic name semaglutide, caught his attention due to its potential benefits. However, the experience was not as smooth as he anticipated.

Initial Enthusiasm and Side Effects

Upon starting the injection-based drug, Gates initially found the results astonishing. “The first week or so, I was thinking, ‘This is astonishing,’” he shared. “Not only do I not want to eat, I don’t want any alcohol of any kind. This is going to be brilliant.”

However, his enthusiasm quickly waned as he began experiencing severe side effects. “I started feeling sick, and I started getting sicker and sicker and sicker,” Gates recounted. “I was literally throwing up four, five times a day and I thought, ‘I can’t do this.’ So that’s it.” The constant nausea led him to discontinue the medication despite its potential benefits.

The Rise of Semaglutide-Based Drugs

Despite Gates’ personal struggles, semaglutide-based drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy have surged in popularity. These medications, produced by Novo Nordisk, are being heralded as solutions to the growing global challenges of obesity and type 2 diabetes. They have received endorsements from celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey and Elon Musk, which has significantly boosted their cultural relevance and demand.

What Are Ozempic and Wegovy?

Ozempic and Wegovy both use semaglutide as their active ingredient but are approved for different uses. Ozempic is primarily used for lowering blood sugar and regulating insulin in type 2 diabetes, while Wegovy is approved for weight loss. Both have shown clinical success not only in weight loss but also in reducing the risk of cardiovascular events among people with obesity.

Side Effects and Warnings

While effective, these drugs can have significant side effects, as experienced by Gates. Common side effects include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. More serious side effects can occur, and these medications should only be used under medical supervision.

Global Pricing of Semaglutide

The cost of semaglutide varies widely around the world:

  • United States: $800 to $900 USD per month for Ozempic or Rybelsus.
  • Canada: $400 to $480 USD per month.
  • United Kingdom: Approximately $100 USD per month.
  • Australia: $80 to $100 USD per month.
  • India: $280 to $480 USD per month for Rybelsus, Saxenda, Wegovy and Ozempic.

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The Investment Case for Novo Nordisk

Novo Nordisk, the manufacturer of these drugs, has seen a substantial financial performance. The company claims an 85% share of the global obesity care market, with profits jumping 51% in recent annual results. This success has solidified its status as Europe’s most valuable company.

The Impact of Celebrity Endorsements

Celebrity endorsements have played a significant role in the popularity of semaglutide. High-profile users have helped propel these medications into the cultural zeitgeist, contributing to their status as “viral drugs.” However, this rapid popularity has also led to supply shortages and has raised concerns about the misuse of these drugs by individuals who do not meet the medical criteria for their use.


Josh Gates’ experience with semaglutide underscores the potential benefits and significant side effects of this medication. While it has proven effective for many, it is crucial to use it under medical guidance and be aware of the possible adverse effects. The high cost in the US contrasts sharply with more affordable options in countries like India, emphasizing the importance of exploring international sources for medication.

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By understanding these factors, patients can make informed decisions about their treatment and manage their health more effectively.