Bernie Sanders asks Novo Nordisk to reduce cost of Ozempic and Wegovy

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Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., demanded that Novo Nordisk, the Danish drug company that makes the popular weight-loss drugs Ozempic and Wegovy, lower the drug’s list price, warning that the outrageously high price has the potential to bankrupt Medicare. the American people and our entire health care system.

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Sanders, who chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, asked the company to lower the list price of Ozempic and Wegovy to no more than they charge for the drug in Canada, in a statement later Wednesday of the publication of a new study on drug costs by Yale researchers.

Ozempic costs about $300 a month out of pocket in Canada, compared to about $1,000 in the US

Sanders argued that Ozempic has the potential to be a game-changer in America’s diabetes and obesity epidemics, but noted that it is unaffordable for millions who need it at current prices.

The outrageously high price has the potential to bankrupt Medicare, the American people and our entire health care system, he wrote, referring to the surge in demand that subsequently led to increased spending on Ozempic under Medicare Part D.

A recent KFF study found that Medicare Part D spent a total of $5.7 billion in 2022 on Ozempic and other similar weight loss drugs combined, up from $57 million in 2018.

Sanders has made calling on drug companies to lower their drug prices a signature issue, recently questioning executives at major drugmakers Johnson & Johnson, Merck and Bristol Myers Squibb about their prices at a hearing of the Senate HELP Committee in January after they agreed to testify to avoid it. a citation detailing its methodology for setting drug prices.

Forbes has reached out to Novo Nordisk for comment.

Big Number

1 trillion dollars. This is how much it could cost state public insurance programs, health insurance exchange subsidies and US taxpayers annually if Ozempic and similar weight loss drugs were made available to all obese Americans , MIT economists Brian Deese, Jonathan Gruber and Ryan Cummings estimated in a recent publication in New York. Opinion Times This exceeds by $800 billion a year the savings to the government from reducing the incidence of diabetes and other health care costs from being overweight, they wrote. This is a staggering sum. That’s almost as much as the government spends as a whole Medicare program and nearly one-fifth of the total amount America spends on health care.”


Sanders cited a Yale study that found Ozempic costs Novo Nordisk less than $5 a month to manufacture. The company did not disclose its manufacturing costs in a statement to CNBC in response to the study, but told the outlet that it spent nearly $5 billion on research and development by 2023 and plans to spend more of $6 billion in a new deal to increase supply. of the drug The company also said that out-of-pocket costs vary depending on a patient’s insurance plan.

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The diabetes drugs, which mimic a hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1 that signals fullness, became very popular in the past year as doctors began issuing prescriptions to patients who simply wanted to lose weight, including a growing list of celebrities who have publicly shared their weight loss success stories after taking the drugs. The Biden administration is expected to ask Medicare to negotiate a lower price for Ozempic with Novo Nordisk as early as next year, according to experts cited by CNBC, as Medicare spending on the drug has increased in last years Medicare Part D, which covers prescription drugs, has already nearly doubled spending on Ozempic since 2021, spending up to $4.6 billion by 2022 as demand for the drug has increased, according to a new KFF study .


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