The GLP-1 revolution will shrink orthopedic surgeries.

I’m going to call this mega trend effecting our industry right now in June 2024.

Imagine a future where there are fewer joint surgeries, fewer foot and ankle procedures, and fewer lumbar spine surgeries required because of the second-order effects of obesity reduction. Yes driven by drugs, not devices.

The most disruptive change in the orthopedic industry from 2024 to say 2027 will not come from inside the industry, but instead from outside the industry.

Enter GLP-1’s.

Remember the significant decrease in total joint surgeries during the Covid-19 pandemic? Now try to envision a permanent 5% to 10% reduction in such procedures, driven by demographic shifts.

This change is becoming reality, as GLP-1 drugs—remarkable agents in the fight against obesity—reshape the landscape of orthopedics. Large orthopedic companies will likely have to lower their revenue forecasts as the patient pool shrinks for the first time in history.

Companies like ZB have already hinted at this trend, acknowledging the long-term impact of weight loss drugs on the total hip and knee market sizes.

If your role in orthopedics relies on a constant increase in procedure volumes, brace yourself for a seismic shift.

The advent of GLP-1 drugs marks a revolutionary era in healthcare, drastically reducing obesity and diabetes rates, and consequently, the demand for orthopedic surgeries. This is not just hype; it’s the beginning of a new chapter in our field.

What’s causing this seismic change specifically?

GLP-1 drugs are the new miracle drug class and the superheroes of weight loss. GLP-1s are a groundbreaking class of medications that help drive weight loss by changing brain signaling. And research shows that they’re extremely effective. This isn’t just speculation; my son-in-law is living proof of their impact. He is taking Ozempic sold by Novo Nordisk. Cost is $892/month but my son-in-law only pays $25/month with his insurance.

GLP-1 drugs have a unique marketing advantage, as every person who takes GLP-1s becomes a walking billboard for the transformation. “Bob, you look great! How did you drop so much weight so quickly?”

Prepare for a health transformation as GLP-1 drugs take center stage, significantly slashing obesity and diabetes rates while simultaneously diminishing the demand for surgeries across orthopedics.

How fast is the GLP-1 adoption in the US?

The adoption of GLP-1 drugs for weight loss in the U.S. has been growing rapidly in recent years. Here’s a summary of the key statistics by year:

  • 2020: The awareness and use of GLP-1 drugs were relatively limited. These drugs were primarily known for managing type 2 diabetes. However, the efficacy of GLP-1 drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy for weight loss began to attract attention.
  • 2021-2022: The adoption rate started to pick up significantly, largely driven by the high-profile success stories and increased media coverage. By 2022, the usage of these drugs for weight loss was still less than 1% of the U.S. population, but the interest was growing rapidly.
  • 2023: The popularity of GLP-1 drugs surged, with increased prescriptions for weight loss. As of late 2023, about 6% of U.S. adults reported currently using GLP-1 drugs, with approximately 12% having used them at some point. This period also saw supply shortages due to the rising demand​ (KFF)​​ (Pew Research Center)​.
  • 2024: The trend continued upward, with more adults becoming aware of and using these drugs. By mid-2024, the market for GLP-1 drugs was projected to continue expanding, with estimates suggesting that around 30 million Americans (approximately 9% of the population) could be using these drugs by 2030​ (Pew Research Center)​​ (J.P. Morgan | Official Website)​.
  • 2025 projected: With 2024 being the tipping point, look for 25% of the population trialing and 18% regular usage.
  • 2026 projected: look for 33% of the population trialing and 25% regular usage.

How do GLP-1’s work?

What makes GLP-1 drugs the unparalleled champions of patient health? They offer an affordable solution to curb appetite, shed pounds, and enhance overall well-being. Most GLP-1 patients shed 15% of their weight on average, and it stays off. Do the math to see how much you would weight at 85%.

These wonder drugs go beyond conventional diabetes medications with their remarkable advantages:

  1. Effective blood sugar control: Forget the insulin rollercoaster—GLP-1 drugs excel at lowering blood sugar without the risk of hypoglycemia.
  2. Weight management: Say goodbye to crash diets; GLP-1 drugs suppress appetite and melt away fat, paving the way for sustainable weight loss.
  3. Cardiovascular benefits: Beyond the scale, these drugs may even lower blood pressure and reduce the threat of heart disease, offering a holistic approach to health.
  4. Convenience: Bid farewell to daily medication routines; injectable GLP-1RAs are a breeze, typically administered once or twice a week, while oral options only require a once or twice-daily commitment.

The Drug Companies

Today, several drug companies sell GLP-1 medications, each with its own brand name products. Here’s a list of some of the major players in the GLP-1 market and their respective brand names:

  • Novo Nordisk:
    • Ozempic (semaglutide)
    • Wegovy (semaglutide)
    • Rybelsus (oral semaglutide)
  • Eli Lilly:
    • Mounjaro (tirzepatide)
    • Trulicity (dulaglutide)
  • AstraZeneca:
    • Bydureon (exenatide extended-release)
    • Byetta (exenatide)
  • Takeda:
    • Tokudai (albiglutide)
    • Tanzeum (liraglutide)
  • Boehringer Ingelheim:
    • Jardiance (empagliflozin)
    • Synjardy (empagliflozin and metformin)
  • GlaxoSmithKline:
    • Tradjenta (linagliptin)
    • Jentadueto (linagliptin and metformin)

Eight recent references that discuss softening orthopedic procedures because of GLP-1’s:

1/ This article discusses how the rising popularity of GLP-1 weight loss drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy could alter projections for orthopedic surgeries. While these drugs help patients lose weight, which might reduce the need for joint replacements, the long-term impact remains uncertain due to factors like drug adherence and varying patient responses (Becker’s Spine Review, 2023).

2/ GLP-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1RAs) are becoming the mainstay in the obesity treatment market. As more effective weight-loss drugs are developed, they are expected to reduce the incidence of obesity-related conditions, including those that necessitate orthopedic surgeries. However, long-term adherence to these medications is a challenge, which could affect their overall impact on obesity rates and related surgeries (Pharmaceutical Technology, 2024).

3/ Projections indicate that while GLP-1 drugs will dominate the obesity treatment market, the introduction of new pharmacological treatments with different mechanisms of action could further reduce obesity rates. This reduction in obesity is expected to decrease the prevalence of obesity-related orthopedic conditions over time, potentially lowering the demand for related surgeries (GlobalData, 2024).

4/ Researchers highlight that while GLP-1 drugs are effective for weight management and reducing obesity-related conditions, their high cost and potential side effects could limit long-term use. This might moderate their impact on reducing the number of orthopedic surgeries (UChicago Medicine, 2024).

5/ This article highlights the effectiveness of GLP-1 receptor agonists in obesity management, suggesting that significant weight loss achieved through these drugs could reduce the incidence of weight-related orthopedic conditions, potentially decreasing the need for surgeries in the future. (

6/ This report mentions the challenges and opportunities presented by GLP-1 drugs, including how they might reduce the need for bariatric and orthopedic surgeries as they help patients manage their weight more effectively. (Advisory Board).

7/ Discusses the rapid development and approval of GLP-1 drugs, noting their high efficacy in weight loss, which could lead to a significant reduction in obesity-related orthopedic surgeries as these medications become more widely used. (Fierce Biotech)

8/ Covers the broader implications of GLP-1 drugs, including their impact on reducing the prevalence of obesity. This could lead to a decrease in the demand for orthopedic surgeries as fewer people suffer from obesity-related joint issues. (CBC News).

This isn’t a drill—it’s a transformational era for orthopedics with less patients. Get ready!