Are consumers paying too much for Ozempic?

Ozempic, a medication used for diabetes that many Americans use to manage weight, comes at a steep price – nearly $1,000 for a 30-day supply. However, research from Yale University suggests that its production costs are much lower. 

According to their study, it only costs around $5 to produce a 30-day supply of Ozempic. This analysis took into account manufacturing expenses and factored in a profit margin to determine a “cost-based price.” Despite this, Novo Nordisk, the pharmaceutical company behind the drug, sells it in the U.S. for over $935 before factoring in insurance coverage and rebates. 

The study concludes that Ozempic could likely be manufactured at much lower prices, which would make the drug much more accessible to the average consumer. 

Novo Nordisk has defended its pricing. The company claims that due to substantial investments of nearly  $5 billion in the drug’s development, along with ongoing expenditure to ramp up production to meet demand, the prices are justified. 

Critics, however, argue that U.S. consumers bear a disproportionate share of these costs compared to patients in other countries, where a 30-day supply of Ozempic can cost less than $100 in many places. 

Additionally, the high prices have led to a surge of counterfeit products, particularly as medications are increasingly available for purchase online. Some counterfeit Ozempic products come from unlicensed sources, posing risks such as misbranding, contamination, improper storage, or transportation. 

The manufacturer itself has cautioned against these cheap counterfeits, which may contain different diabetes medications with potentially adverse effects or safety concerns.

Senator Bernie Sanders highlighted the price disparities, noting that the same product is available for much lower prices in Canada and Germany – $155 and $59 per month, respectively. 

He noted Ozempic’s potential to address diabetes and obesity in the U.S. while expressing concern that its high cost undermines its accessibility. Sanders praised Novo Nordisk’s recent price reductions for its insulin products and called for similar action to make Ozempic more affordable.

He added: “As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP), I am calling on Novo Nordisk to lower the list price of Ozempic – and the related drug Wegovy – in America to no more than what they charge for this drug in Canada. The American people are sick and tired of paying, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs while the pharmaceutical industry enjoys huge profits.”

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