A box of the diabetes drug Ozempic lies on a pharmacy counter on April 17, 2023 in Los Angeles.
Mario Tama | Getty Images
The report from KFF, a health policy organization, comes as many US health insurers object to the exorbitant cost of weight-loss drugs and drop the drugs from their plans.
Typically costing around $1,000 per month on average for long-term prescription drugs, these drugs are putting a strain on insurers’ budgets. But many of the 100 million American adults who are obese can’t afford to pay out of pocket for a treatment called a GLP-1 agonist.
KFF compared list prices — the price that the drug maker sets before insurance or any rebates — available through website searches.
According to Krutika Amin, associate director of the Peterson-KFF Health System Tracker, some countries negotiate directly with drugmakers such as Novo Nordisk to set lower list prices for drugs. Meanwhile, other countries such as the US do not contribute much varying list prices.
30 day supply of novo nordiskFor example, the diabetes drug Ozempic, which is used off-label for weight loss, has a list price of $936 in the US, five times as expensive as its $168 list price in Japan.
List prices in other countries are even lower. Ozempic costs $103 in Germany, $96 in Sweden, and $83 in France.
Novo Nordisk’s Vegovy, which contains the same active ingredient as Ozempic and is approved for weight loss, has a list price of over $1,300 in the US. Meanwhile, the list price of Wegovi in Germany is just $328.
Eli Lilly’s The diabetes drug Monjaro, which is also used off-label for weight loss, has a list price of $1,023 in the US, but only $319 in Japan and $444 in the Netherlands.
Representatives for Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment on Thursday.
These list prices and unregulated insurance coverage of weight loss drugs in the US undoubtedly affect access. But they also affect patients’ overall interest in the drug, a KFF survey released earlier this month shows.
The survey found that nearly half of US adults are generally interested in taking a prescription weight loss drug, but that interest drops to 16% if the drug is not covered by insurance.
Nearly 80% of adults in the survey said that insurers should cover the cost of weight-loss drugs for adults who are overweight or obese, while half said that insurers should cover the cost for those who are overweight or obese. Should do who want to use them to lose weight.
New trial data released last week by Novo Nordisk could potentially put more pressure on US insurers to cover weight-loss drugs.
The Danish company’s trial found that Vegovy reduced the risk of serious heart problems and heart-related death by 20% in overweight or obese patients with established heart disease.
The results suggest the same is true of Vegovy and possibly other obesity drugs. significant health benefits Beyond shedding unwanted pounds. But organizations representing insurers told CNBC More data is needed before they can qualify for widespread coverage.