Saturday, September 23, 2023

Report: Weight Loss Drugs Cost Significantly More for Americans than Peer Countries – MedCity News

The U.S. has much higher list prices for several weight loss drugs when compared to other peer countries, a new KFF report found.

KFF’s analysis compares list prices from website searches for a month’s supply of Ozempic, Rybelsus, Wegovy and Mounjaro, which are all approved for diabetes or weight loss in the U.S. In some countries, these drugs are not available.

Ozempic, which is approved for diabetes in the U.S., costs $936 for a month’s supply in the U.S., versus $169 in Japan, $147 in Canada and $144 in Switzerland. Rybelsus, also approved in the U.S. for diabetes, costs $936 for a month’s supply in the U.S., while it costs $203 in the Netherlands, $158 in Canada and $147 in Switzerland.

Wegovy has been approved for weight loss and costs $1,349 for a month’s supply in the U.S., versus $328 in Germany and $296 in the Netherlands. Mounjaro, approved for diabetes, costs $1,023 for a month’s supply in the U.S., compared to $444 in the Netherlands and $319 in Japan.

KFF noted that “list prices are not necessarily net prices paid as manufacturers provide insurer rebates and patient coupons. For example, privately insured patients in the U.S. can get Wegovy coupons of $225 per 28-day supply for up to 1 year if their plan covers Wegovy, or $500 per 28-day supply if their private health plan does not cover it. Private insurers and employers in the U.S. may be able to negotiate lower prices with drug manufacturers or get larger rebates.”

Also contributing to countries’ total health costs is the number of people using the drugs, the report stated. The U.S. has the highest rate of obesity compared to peer nations: 33.5% of adults have obesity in the U.S., versus 25.9% in the United Kingdom, 21.6% in Canada and 19.5% in Australia. The average among peer countries is 17.1%.

“Higher prices of drugs for weight loss and higher rates of obesity in the U.S. could mean a more significant impact of these drugs on overall health spending in the U.S. than in peer countries,” KFF said.

Research is continuing to come out about the side effects of these drugs and how they’ll affect long-term health. Coverage of weight loss drugs also vary by health plan.

“In the U.S., private insurers and employers are figuring out whether and how to cover these weight-loss drugs—coverage and cost-sharing will likely vary by health plan,” KFF said. “Medicare is not allowed to cover weight-loss drugs under current law and Medicaid coverage varies by state. Peer nations have similarly variable insurance coverage for these drugs for weight loss. It remains to be seen what share of the costs of weight-loss drugs will be borne by patients or payers.”

Photo: puhimec, Getty Images

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