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Novo Nordisk’s $1,000 diabetes drug Ozempic can be made for less than $5 a month, according to a study

A box of Ozempic and its contents sit on a table in Dudley, North Tyneside, Britain, October 31, 2023.

Lee Smith | Reuters

The blockbuster diabetes drug Ozempic could even be made for less than $5 a month Novo Nordisk fees almost $1,000 per month for injection in the US before insurance, a study published on Wednesday suggests.

The study by researchers at Yale University, King’s College Hospital in London and the nonprofit Doctors Without Borders raises more questions about the high price of the best-selling diabetes treatment and similar weight-loss drugs, all part of a new class of treatments called GLP-1.

Demand for these drugs has skyrocketed in the last year, even as more insurers are removing them from their plans because of cost, leaving some patients unable to afford the drugs.

The study also comes after years of political pressure on Novo Nordisk and other drugmakers to reduce the high costs of diabetes treatment, particularly insulin.

According to the study published in JAMA Network Open, Ozempic can generally be made for less than various forms of insulin.

Researchers found that a month’s supply of The treatment could be manufactured for an estimated 89 cents to $4.73. They evaluated the cost of manufacturing the weekly shot, along with a profit margin and tax deduction, to create these estimates, which they call “cost-based pricing.”

Novo Nordisk’s list price for a monthly package of Ozempic is $935.77 before insurance and other discounts. The results suggest that GLP-1 “can likely be produced at prices well below current prices, allowing for broader access,” the researchers concluded.

In a statement Wednesday, Novo Nordisk declined to cover production costs for Ozempic and its weight-loss drug counterpart Wegovy. However, the Danish drugmaker said it spent nearly $5 billion on research and development last year and will spend more than $6 billion under a recent deal to boost production to meet demand GLP-1 to cover.

The company also said 75% of its gross revenue goes to discounts and rebates to ensure patients have access to its products.

The company also said that out-of-pocket costs for Ozempic depend on the patient’s insurance coverage. Patients with private or commercial insurance coverage for Ozempic can access a savings card and pay as little as $25 for a one-month, two-month or three-month supply of treatment for up to 24 months.

Separate research by the University of Liverpool and other researchers found that Wegovy could be manufactured for $40 a month.

A survey released this month by Evercore ISI found that more than half of people currently taking GLP-1 reported paying a monthly cost of $50 or less out of pocket. Nearly 75% of respondents who had previously taken one of the medications said they had spent the same amount.

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