Novo Nordisk CEO to Testify Before Senate About Ozempic Prices

CEO Lars Jørgensen agreed to testify voluntarily at a September 2024 Senate committee hearing on the blockbuster weight loss drug's exorbitant cost.

Ozempic and Wegovy are relatively new and highly effective injectable diabetes/weight loss medications that have soared in popularity over the past few years. Both medicines contain semaglutide — a GLP-1 receptor agonist proven to help manage diabetes and promote weight loss.

Between 2020 and 2022, sales of these and other GLP-1 receptor agonists skyrocketed, increasing by 300%. However, managing diabetes and losing weight via these drugs comes at a high price, as they cost consumers around $1,000 per month without insurance.

Still, reports indicate that pharmaceutical companies that make Ozempic, Wegovy, and other GLP-1s could still profit even if they sold their blockbuster medications for around $5 per month.

In April of this year, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced a crackdown on "junk" patent listings of these and other medications in an effort to drive down costs. Junk patents are a tactic drug makers use to extend patents and prevent the manufacture of cheaper generic versions of brand name drugs.

Despite the FTC's efforts, the cost of GLP-1s like Ozempic remains high.

Senate committee takes a stand

In light of reports that pharmaceutical firms could sell injectable diabetes/weight loss drugs for significantly less and still profit, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP), launched a drug price investigation in April.

The probe found that while Ozempic costs more than $900 per month in the United States, consumers in Canada pay $155, and those in Germany pay only $59. Moreover, Americans shell out over $1,000 per month for Wegovy, while the cost in Germany is $140, and those in the United Kingdom pay $92.

The HELP committee has scheduled a hearing in early September to investigate these price disparities. Recently, Sanders threatened to subpoena Novo Nordisk President Doug Langa to testify before the committee about the company's pricing for Ozempic and Wegovy.

However, in a June 14 conversation with Sanders, Nordisk's CEO Lars Jørgensen agreed to voluntarily testify at the hearing.

"I enjoyed the opportunity of chatting with Mr. Jørgensen this afternoon and thank him for agreeing to voluntarily testify on a solo panel before the HELP Committee on the high cost of Ozempic and Wegovy in the United States," said Sanders in a statement. "The scheduled subpoena vote is no longer necessary and will be canceled."


Sanders said the Committee looks forward to Mr. Jørgensen explaining why Americans are paying up to ten or 15 times more for these medications than individuals in other countries.

The Vermont Senator added, "The American people are sick and tired of paying, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs."


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