Ozempic, Wegovy: Sanders launches Senate investigation into ‘outrageously high’ pricing of drugs

Tom Little/Reuters/File

Novo Nordisk said it remains committed to working with policymakers on ways to support access and affordability.


Senator Bernie Sanders attacks the high prices of blockbuster drugs Ozempic and Wegovy.

The Vermont senator, an independent who has long denounced drugmakers for their expensive products, is launching an investigation into the “shockingly high prices” charged by Novo Nordisk for these drugs.

“Novo Nordisk scientists deserve great credit for developing these drugs that have the potential to be a game-changer for millions of Americans struggling with type 2 diabetes and obesity. As important as these drugs are, they will be of no use to the millions of patients who cannot afford them,” Sanders, chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Health, wrote Wednesday. pensions, in a letter addressed to the CEO of the pharmaceutical manufacturer. “Furthermore, if the prices of these products are not significantly reduced, they also risk bankrupting Medicare, Medicaid, and our entire healthcare system. »

Sanders is asking Novo Nordisk to answer whether it will “substantially reduce” drug prices, as well as provide information on how much revenue it makes from selling the drugs, how much it has spent on research and development and how it has determined the prices.

Ozempic is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat diabetes and Wegovy to help some people lose weight or reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease. Both are injectable medications that use the active ingredient semaglutide, which is part of a class of drugs called GLP-1 receptor agonists.

Novo Nordisk raised Ozempic’s list price 3.5% this year to $969 for a four-week supply, but kept Wegovy’s price unchanged at $1,349. The drugmaker told CNN in February that it raises the list prices of some drugs each year based on changes in the health care system, inflation and market conditions.

Sanders’ letter notes that researchers at Yale University recently discovered that these drugs “can be manufactured cost-effectively for less than $5 per month.” Additionally, Ozempic costs only $155 in Canada and $59 in Germany, while Wegovy can be purchased for $140 in Germany and $92 in the United Kingdom, the senator pointed out.

Novo Nordisk agrees with Sanders that access to medicines is important for patients, the company said in a statement. He said he remains committed to working with policymakers on ways to support access and affordability.

“It’s easy to oversimplify the science needed to understand diseases, develop and produce new treatments, and the intricacies of the U.S. and global healthcare systems,” Novo Nordisk said. “But public debate does not always take into account this extremely complex reality.”

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For most Americans, the price they pay for their medications depends on their health insurance policy, not the drug manufacturers’ list prices. However, they may have to pay the list price if they are uninsured or have not yet met their annual deductible. Additionally, many drug manufacturers, including Novo Nordisk, offer savings cards and patient assistance programs that can reduce out-of-pocket costs for some people.

Ozempic is also proving costly for the federal government, while Wegovy’s recent approval to reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes is expected to add to the bill.

The law does not allow Medicare to cover weight-loss medications, but will cover Ozempic for diabetic enrollees and Wegovy for those with cardiovascular disease who are overweight or obese. It spent $4.6 billion on Ozempic in 2022, up from $2.6 billion the year before, according to KFF.

Another KFF analysis found that Wegovy could cost Medicare nearly $3 billion a year. Neither analysis took into account discounts, information about which is not publicly available.

Increased spending on these drugs will likely contribute to increased Part D premiums for all beneficiaries.

CNN’s Meg Tirrell contributed to this report.

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Sara Adm

Aimant les mots, Sara Smith a commencé à écrire dès son plus jeune âge. En tant qu'éditeur en chef de son journal scolaire, il met en valeur ses compétences en racontant des récits impactants. Smith a ensuite étudié le journalisme à l'université Columbia, où il est diplômé en tête de sa classe.Après avoir étudié au New York Times, Sara décroche un poste de journaliste de nouvelles. Depuis dix ans, il a couvert des événements majeurs tels que les élections présidentielles et les catastrophes naturelles. Il a été acclamé pour sa capacité à créer des récits captivants qui capturent l'expérience humaine.
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