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Sanders calls for Novo Nordisk to slash Ozempic, Wegovy prices

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) called on pharmaceutical manufacturer Novo Nordisk to slash prices for two of its drugs Wednesday, citing a new study on the costs to manufacture the medications.

The research found that a weekly injection of semaglutide — which is the generic name for Ozempic — can be manufactured at a cost between $0.89 and $4.73 per month.

“Today, a new Yale study found that Ozempic costs less than $5 a month to manufacture. And yet, Novo Nordisk charges Americans nearly $1,000 a month for this drug, while the same exact product can be purchased for just $155 a month in Canada and just $59 in Germany,” Sanders said in a statement.

The monthly price for Ozempic is $935, according to Novo Nordisk’s website. The manufacturer’s weight loss drug, Wegovy, is also a semaglutide injection. Its list price is about $1,349 per month.

“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,” Sanders said in the statement. “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.”

Novo Nordisk’s website noted the list price is the cost before insurance, discounts or rebates are applied. An analysis from the American Enterprise Institute last year found that most people do not pay the full listed price for the drugs.

The new study looked at the cost to manufacture insulin and how this price compared to that of diabetes treatments like Ozempic and similar drugs. Researchers at Yale University, King’s College Hospital in London and Doctors Without Borders conducted the analysis, which was published in the JAMA Network journal Wednesday.

In the study, researchers concluded their findings show companies could lower the costs of these diabetes treatments to make them more accessible globally.

“High prices limit access to newer diabetes medicines in many countries. The findings of this study suggest that robust generic and biosimilar competition could reduce prices to more affordable levels and enable expansion of diabetes treatment globally,” the researchers wrote.

Novo Nordisk said in a statement to The Hill that it offers a “number of options” at its website to address affordability concerns.

“Congress has been focused on the complexities of the U.S. healthcare system and the interplay of rebates, discounts, administrative fees, co-pays and deductibles – which all play a role in creating a situation where a majority of U.S. patients covered by commercial health plans pay as little as $25 a month for their prescriptions,” the statement read.

“Still, affordability challenges are real, and we offer a number of options to help U.S. patients at www.novocare.com and support changes in policy to improve patient affordability and access for those living with chronic diseases,” the company added.

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