Diabetes Drug Ozempic Can Be Made Available at a Cheaper Price, Study Finds

A study suggests that Ozempic can be produced for less than $5 a month challenging the current pricing strategy of the drug in the US market.
Ozempic, the life-saving diabetes drug highly sought-after in the US, could be manufactured in the affordable range of less than $5 a month. (Representational image: Pixabay)
Ozempic, the life-saving diabetes drug highly sought-after in the US, could be manufactured in the affordable range of less than $5 a month. (Representational image: Pixabay)

Ozempic, the life-saving diabetes drug highly sought-after in the US, could be manufactured in the affordable range of less than $5 a month, a study suggests. Novo Nordisk charges nearly $1,000 per month for the injection in the U.S market, before insurance.

 The study, from researchers at Yale University, King’s College Hospital in London and the nonprofit Doctors Without Borders, has questioned the hefty price tag of the top-selling drugs for diabetes and similar drugs like Wegovy for weight loss, which belong to a new class of drugs called GLP-1s.

More insurers choose to drop these drugs from their plans citing their exorbitant cost, leaving some patients unable to afford the drugs. (Representational image: Unsplash)
More insurers choose to drop these drugs from their plans citing their exorbitant cost, leaving some patients unable to afford the drugs. (Representational image: Unsplash)

The study comes after years of political pressure on companies like Novo Nordisk and other drug manufacturers to lower the steep expenses of diabetes care, especially insulin. 

Ozempic is a once-weekly injectable medication primarily used for treatment of type 2 diabetes. The drug is also reported to induce modest amounts of weight loss in people. 

The drug has witnessed a soaring demand over the last year, even as more insurers drop it from their plans citing its exorbitant cost, leaving some patients unable to afford the drugs. 

Surprisingly, the greatest expense in Ozempic production is not due to the active substance, called semaglutide, but rather the disposable pens used to inject it. According to the researchers, they can be made for no more than $2.83 per month’s supply.

Furthermore, they assessed the manufacturing costs for the weekly injection along with a profit margin with an allowance for tax to derive those estimates, what they call “cost-based prices.”  The developments of the study suggest the possibility of manufacturing GLP-1s for prices far below current prices, enabling wider access. The study extends research showing how steep US markups are for GLP-1 drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy and underlines long standing criticism of prices for diabetes therapies, especially insulin. 

Separate research from the University of Liverpool and other researchers has found that the manufacture of Wegovy drug could be covered in $40 a month.

Novo Nordisk’s quoted price for a monthly package of Ozempic is $935.77 before insurance and other rebates.  However, the company refused to disclose the production costs for Ozempic and its weight loss drug counterpart Wegovy. But it has informed that 75% of its gross earnings go to rebates and discounts to ensure patients have access to its products. 

The company further stated that the out-of-pocket costs for Ozempic are subject to the patient’s insurance plan. 

(Input from various sources)

(Rehash/Dr. Vineesha V/ MSM)

Ozempic, the life-saving diabetes drug highly sought-after in the US, could be manufactured in the affordable range of less than $5 a month. (Representational image: Pixabay)
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