The Endless Big Pharma Money Grab

If you’re annoyed by capitalism especially regarding Big Pharma, the March 2023 move by Eli Lilly to reduce and limit insulin prices seemed like a great thing. And it is! No one should have to pay thousands of dollars for life-saving medication in a country that claims to value life over everything (**cough**guns**cough**).

Some folks cheered this as a move of goodwill by Eli Lilly. Let’s be real though: Had they not been shamed into doing it–including by President Biden–I doubt they’d have done it. But shame isn’t enough for a corporation making nearly 22 billion dollars. They can afford to not give a fuck about shame. Eli Lilly knows the decreased cost of insulin will cause them to take a hit. So, they had to find something to replace it.

Another example of the endless Big Pharma money grab

**Semaglutide enters the chat**

If you don’t know, Semaglutide is the generic name for Ozempic and Wegovy, both of which are made by Novo Nordisk. The FDA approved Ozempic in 2017 and Wegovy in 2021. So, this med was obviously in the pipeline and poised to be better than Cats. In late 2022, additional approvals went through, and Big Pharma decided 2023 was going to be the year of Semaglutide. I mean if you spent $180.2 million in over roughly six months to advertise one med, you’d be hopeful it paid off, right?

Google Trends data indicates it did.

screenshot of Google Trends of Big Pharma searches for Ozempic between 1-1-2022 and 7-27-2023, which saw an increase starting in late 2022.
Notice the date of increase in searches for these Big Pharma drugs

The financial numbers also reflect that Novo Nordisk’s strategy paid off, literally, with sales at $12.5 billion this year so far.

Here was Novo Nordisk–a Denmark-based company–basking in its glory of a successful marketing campaign.

However, Eli Lilly being an American company and, therefore, a capitalist leader in profiting off illness, wasn’t about to let the Danes win, right?

**Tirzepatide enters the chat**

Eli Lilly sat back, watching Novo Nordisk and their developmental moves with Semaglutide. Then, to the public eye, they casually popped in and said, “Ozempic? Psh. That’s so 2000-and late.* Have you tried Mounjaro?”

Big Pharma’s Bigger Pharma

Approved in mid-2022, Mounjaro is generically known as Tirzepatide and is already being positioned as actually better than Cats. (Not gonna lie: Did not expect to Google “doctors prefer Mounjaro” and get results from Time and NatGeo.)

Mind you, Mounjaro is *NOT* yet approved as a weight-loss drug, yet it’s still difficult for diabetics to find. Funny that.

You can thank Eli Lilly’s advertising campaign for the popularity of the drug. They paid for a “75 second TV commercial” on Super Bowl Sunday on FOX. And in March 2023 alone, Eli Lilly dropped over $20 million on ads for the drug.

Note that date: March 2023. What happened in March 2023 again? Oh yeah. Eli Lilly lowered insulin prices.

Using GoodRx, I can get Humalog, an Eli Lilly insulin med, for as low as $19.73 at Walmart. Mounjaro? The cheapest is at Hy-Vee for $989.32.

Was Eli Lilly’s move to lower insulin medication prices truly a move of goodwill, or did they have something more expensive and more marketable already in line to replace it?

And let’s not even get started on the lawsuits, side effects, and corruption, y’all.

*I, for one, enjoy my outdated references.

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