Chelsea Handler talked about Ozempic being used for weight loss in Hollywood circles — and shared her own experience — during her appearance on Call Her Sheep.
The comedian, 47, sat down with host Alex Cooper for an intimate conversation on the podcast, where she opened up about being unknowingly prescribed Ozempic, meant to treat type 2 diabetes.
“So my anti-aging doctor just hands it out to somebody,” Handler admitted. “I didn’t even know I was on it. She said, ‘If you ever want to lose five kilos, that’s good’.”
But the medicine is not intended for people who need to lose only 5 lbs. Ozempic, or its counterpart Wegovy for people with obesity, works in the brain and changes the person’s fat mass set point, Dr. Ania Jastreboff, MD, PhD., and an obesity medicine scientist at Yale University, tells PEOPLE.
Also, the drug should be taken in a low dose at first and slowly increased over time. Chandler says she dosed herself after a vacation.
“I came back from a holiday and I sprayed myself with it. I went to lunch with a girlfriend a few days later and she said, ‘I don’t really eat anything.’ I’m so nauseous, I’m on Ozempic,” she recalled. “And I was like, ‘I’m a little nauseous, too.’ But I had just come back from Spain and was jet lagged.”
Handler then said her friend asked if she was sure she wasn’t on Ozempic before sharing that she was just “on semaglutide.”
“It’s Ozempic,” her friend explained.
Ozempic is an FDA-approved prescription drug — taken by injection in the thigh, abdomen, or arm — for people with type 2 diabetes. It is one of the brand names for semaglutide, which targets areas of the brain that regulate appetite. Novo Nordisk, the maker of Ozempic, makes several brand-name drugs containing semaglutide, including Wegovy, which is FDA-approved for people with clinical obesity.
During the podcast, Handler admitted that when she found out that it was not medically necessary for her to use Ozempic, she stopped and now gives the remaining doses of the drug to her friends. (Health experts encourage patients to consult with their provider before taking any medication.)
“I’m not on it anymore. It’s too irresponsible,” Handler told Cooper. “I’m an irresponsible drug user, but I won’t take a diabetic drug. I tried it and I won’t. It’s not for me. It’s not right for me.”
“I’ve injected about four or five of my friends with Ozempic because I realized I wouldn’t use it because it’s silly. It’s for heavy people,” she added. “Everyone is on Ozempic. It will backfire, something bad will happen.”
Handler noted that she understands why diabetes and obesity drugs are on the way. “It’s a miracle! It’s too good to be true,” she said. “You can just make people who have struggled with weight their whole lives thin? It’s a miracle.”
Cooper then said the situation is “fd up” because someone in her life needs Ozempic medically for their diabetes but can no longer get it because of the shortage.
Some doctors have expressed frustration that Ozempic and Wegovy are not getting to people who need it, and the FDA has indicated a shortage of the drugs.
“The Hollywood trend is worrying,” said Dr. Caroline Apovian, co-director of the Center for Weight Management and Wellness at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, recently told PEOPLE. “We’re not talking about stars who need to lose 10 kilos. We’re talking about people who die of obesity, are going to die of obesity.”
“You’re taking away patients with diabetes,” she continued. “We have life-saving drugs… and the American public that really needs these drugs can’t get them.”