Chelsea Handler talked about Ozempic being used for weight loss in Hollywood circles — and shared her own experience — during her appearance on Call Here Daddy.
The comedian, 47, sat down with host Alex Cooper for an intimate conversation on the podcast, where she opened up about unknowingly being prescribed Ozempic, intended to treat Type 2 diabetes.
“So, my anti-aging doctor just hands it out to anybody,” Handler admitted. “I didn’t even know I was on it. She said, ‘If you ever want to drop five lbs., this is good.'”
However, the medication is not intended for people who need to lose just 5 lbs. Ozempic, or its counterpart Wegovy for people with obesity, works in the brain, and shifts the person’s fat mass set point, Dr. Ania Jastreboff, MD, PhD., and an obesity medicine physician scientist at Yale University told PEOPLE.
Furthermore, the drug needs to be taken at a low dose at the beginning, and slowly increased over time. Chandler says she gave herself a dose after a vacation.
“I came back from a vacation and I injected myself with it. I went to lunch with a girlfriend a few days later, and she was like, ‘I’m not really eating anything. I’m so nauseous, I’m on Ozempic,'” she recalled. “And I was like, ‘I’m kind of 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.”
“That’s Ozempic,” her friend explained.
Ozempic is an FDA-approved prescription medication — taken by injection in the thigh, stomach or arm — for people with type 2 diabetes. It’s 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 once she learned it wasn’t medically necessary for her to use Ozempic she stopped, and now gives the remaining doses of the medication to her friends. (Health experts urge patients to consult with their provider before taking any medications.)
“I’m not on it anymore. That’s too irresponsible,” Handler told Cooper. “I’m an irresponsible drug user, but I’m not gonna take a diabetic drug. I tried it, and I’m not gonna do that. That’s not for me. That’s not right for me.”
“I’ve injected about four or five of my friends with Ozempic because I realized I didn’t want to use it cause it’s silly. It’s for heavy people,” she added. “Everyone is on Ozempic. It’s gonna backfire, something bad is gonna happen.”
Handler noted that she understands why the diabetes and obesity drugs are trending. “It’s a miracle! It’s too good to be true,” she said. “You can just make people who struggled with weight their entire lives thin? It’s a miracle.”
Cooper then said the situation is “f—d up” because someone in her life needs Ozempic medically for their diabetes, but can no longer get it due to the shortage.
Some doctors have expressed frustration that Ozempic and Wegovy aren’t getting to people who need it, and the FDA has listed a shortage for the drugs.
“The Hollywood trend is concerning,” Dr. Caroline Apovian, co-director of the Center for Weight Management and Wellness at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, recently told PEOPLE. “We’re not talking about stars who need to lose 10 pounds. We’re talking about people who are dying of obesity, are going to die of obesity.”
“You’re taking away from patients with diabetes,” she continued. “We have lifesaving drugs… and the United States public that really needs these drugs can’t get them.”