Novo Nordisk’s Ozempic might be made for lower than $5 a month: examine

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By Stacy Connor

A field of Ozempic and contents sit on a desk in Dudley, North Tyneside, Britain, October 31, 2023. 

Lee Smith | Reuters

The blockbuster diabetes drug Ozempic may very well be manufactured for lower than $5 a month, at the same time as Novo Nordisk prices near $1,000 per thirty days for the injection within the U.S. earlier than insurance coverage, a examine launched Wednesday suggests.

The examine, from researchers at Yale College, King’s School Hospital in London and the nonprofit Medical doctors With out Borders, raises extra questions concerning the hefty price ticket of the top-selling diabetes therapy and comparable medication for weight reduction, that are all a part of a brand new class of therapies known as GLP-1s.

Demand for these medicines has soared over the past 12 months, at the same time as extra insurers drop them from their plans attributable to value, leaving some sufferers unable to afford the medication. 

The examine additionally comes after years of political stress on Novo Nordisk and different drugmakers to slash excessive prices of diabetes care, particularly insulin. 

Ozempic can usually be produced for lower than numerous types of insulin, in line with the examine revealed in JAMA Community Open. 

Researchers discovered {that a} month’s provide of the therapy may very well be manufactured for an estimated 89 cents to $4.73. They evaluated manufacturing prices for the weekly injection together with a revenue margin with an allowance for tax to supply these estimates, which they name “cost-based costs.” 

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Novo Nordisk’s checklist value for a month-to-month package deal of Ozempic is $935.77 earlier than insurance coverage and different rebates. The findings recommend that GLP-1s “can probably be manufactured for costs far beneath present costs, enabling wider entry,” the researchers concluded. 

In an announcement on Wednesday, Novo Nordisk declined to supply manufacturing prices for Ozempic and its weight reduction drug counterpart Wegovy. However the Danish drugmaker famous that it spent virtually $5 billion on analysis and growth final 12 months, and can spend greater than $6 billion a latest deal to spice up manufacturing to satisfy demand for GLP-1s.

It additionally mentioned 75% of its gross earnings go to rebates and reductions to make sure sufferers have entry to its merchandise. 

The corporate additionally mentioned out-of-pocket prices for Ozempic depend upon a affected person’s insurance coverage protection. Sufferers with non-public or business protection for Ozempic can entry a financial savings card and pay as little as $25 for a one-month, two-month or three-month provide of the therapy for as much as 24 months. 

Separate analysis from the College of Liverpool and different researchers has discovered that Wegovy may very well be produced for $40 a month.

A survey launched this month from Evercore ISI discovered that greater than half of individuals presently taking a GLP-1 mentioned they’re paying a month-to-month value of $50 or much less out of pocket. Practically 75% of respondents who used to take one of many medication mentioned they spent the identical quantity.

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