Novo Nordisk Investing $6 Billion to Increase Access to Ozempic, Wegovy – PEOPLE

  • Novo Nordisk is investing $6.5 billion to increase production of Ozempic and Wegovy.
  • The pharmaceutical company said it is also doing “everything we can” to make both drugs more accessible.
  • Out-of-pocket cost of Ozempic is about $968 per package while Wegovy costs about $1,349 per package.

Pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk is vowing to amp up production and increase access to its popular weight loss drugs.

The company is the maker of semaglutide, known by brand names Ozempic and Wegovy. Ozempic is an FDA-approved prescription medication for people with type 2 diabetes, while Wegovy is FDA-approved for weight loss in people with chronic obesity. The medications — taken weekly by injection in the thigh, stomach or arm — work in the brain to impact satiety. 

Over the past year, the drugs have been gaining popularity as many are using them when not medically necessary. In addition to the medications trending, both have also been impacted by the nationwide drug shortage.

According to the  Food and Drug Administration, three different doses of Wegovy are currently listed as having “limited availability” due to demand increases. However, there is no estimated duration of the shortage.

Negelle Morris, senior vice president of Novo Nordisk, told ABC News, “We recognize that the demand definitely is outpacing the supply that we have.”

She said the company is investing $6.5 billion to increase production, enough to start 25,000 new patients on Wegovy per week. However, the shortages are still ongoing.

“It’s not like a light switch,” Morris said of catching up to the demand. “The strategy is to be very mindful and thoughtful about the amount of the lower doses that we’re putting into the market. I think that over time, the investments that we’re making in manufacturing capabilities will ensure that over time we’re able to meet that demand.”

Wegovy doses.

Michael Siluk/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

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Novo Nordisk is also hoping to address the high out-of-pocket costs of their medications. 

In April, the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions launched an investigation of the prices that Novo Nordisk charges for Ozempic and Wegovy. The out-of-pocket cost of Ozempic is about $968 per package, while Wegovy costs about $1,349 per package.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders — chair of the committee — said in an interview that the prices must “be lowered in order for consumers to get it, and for governments not to go bankrupt providing it,” The New York Times reported.

In response to the investigation, Morris said that the pharmaceutical company is doing “everything we can” to make both drugs more accessible.

“We agree that these medications need to be more affordable — that’s a stake that we’ve put in the ground,” she told ABC. “I can absolutely assure America that we’re doing everything we can not only to reduce out-of-pocket costs in a way that is consistent with the healthcare system that we have in the U.S., but also to increase supply, our manufacturing facilities are working 24/7.” 

Morris continued, “The plan that we had to be thoughtful and certainly responsible but also to increase access to this medication by releasing more of those lower doses, allowing more new patients to start, is something that we’ll continue to work on.”

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