Tags: bernie sanders | senate health committee | wegovy | health | care

Bernie Sanders: Weight Loss Drugs Could Bankrupt US Healthcare

Bernie Sanders: Weight Loss Drugs Could Bankrupt US Healthcare
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, speaks to reporters outside the Senate Chamber on Capitol Hill on April 23, 2024 in Washington, DC. (Andrew Harnik/Getty Images)

By    |   Thursday, 30 May 2024 02:43 PM EDT

The blockbuster Wegovy and Ozempic weight-loss drugs could bankrupt the U.S. healthcare system by boosting pharmaceutical spending to $1 trillion a year, Senate Health Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders charges.

The “outrageously high price of Wegovy and other weight loss drugs” could push Americans to spend double what they spend now on prescription medicine, according to a report from the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.

If half of the adults with obesity took Wegovy and the other new weight loss drugs, it could cost $411 billion a year, more than the $406 billion Americans spent on all retail prescription drugs in 2022, according to the HELP report.

By comparison, in 1992, Americans spent $47 billion on prescription drugs — fully 764% less than the $406 billion in 2022.

If half of all Medicare and Medicaid patients who are obese took Wegovy and other weight loss drugs, Medicare and Medicaid could be hit with an additional $166 billion bill a year — outpacing the $175 billion that the two healthcare programs spent on retail prescription drugs in 2022, HELP said.

Novo Nordisk charges $1,349 per Wegovy product in the U.S. — but just $186 in Denmark, $137 in Germany, and $92 in the UK, HELP alleges — stressing that it costs Novo Nordisk just $5 to make.

“The unjustifiably high prices of these weight loss drugs could also cause a massive spike in prescription drug spending that could lead to an historic increase in premiums for Medicare and everyone who has health insurance,” Sanders said.

“There is no rational reason, other than greed, for Novo Nordisk to charge Americans struggling with obesity $1,349 for Wegovy,” Sanders added.

The Health Committee’s report said, “Pricing drugs based on their value cannot serve as a blank check, or the sole determinant for how we understand what to pay for essential goods. As important as these drugs are, they will not do any good for the millions of patients who cannot afford them.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 42% of American adults are obese, and 11% of the population has diabetes.

Private health insurance plans cover weight-loss drugs partially, although many employers are eliminating them from their health care plans due to their excessive costs, The Hill reports.

Medicare by law cannot cover the cost of weight loss drugs. However, the Food and Drug Administration recently approved Wegovy for overweight or obese people at risk of serious heart problems, opening the door to more coverage of weight loss drugs by Medicare and Medicaid.

The Committee opened its investigation into the cost of weight-loss drugs in April.

Novo Nordisk told The Hill it is cooperating with HELP’s investigation and is reviewing the report.

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StreetTalk
The blockbuster Wegovy and Ozempic weight-loss drugs could bankrupt the U.S. healthcare system by boosting pharmaceutical spending to $1 trillion a year, Senate Health Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders charges.
bernie sanders, senate health committee, wegovy, health, care
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2024-43-30
Thursday, 30 May 2024 02:43 PM
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