An analysis by analytics firm Trilliant Health has revealed that U.S. healthcare providers wrote over nine million prescriptions for drugs like Ozempic, Wegovy, and similar medications for diabetes and obesity during the last quarter of 2022. This figure represents a staggering 300% increase in quarterly prescriptions for these drugs between early 2020 and the end of 2022.
Novo Nordisk’s Ozempic, a weekly diabetes injection, accounted for more than 65% of the total prescriptions at the end of 2022. Interestingly, it was often prescribed off-label for its effectiveness in aiding weight loss. These medications belong to the class of drugs known as GLP-1s, which mimic a gut hormone to reduce appetite.
The high demand for these drugs has garnered significant attention from both the public and Wall Street due to their potential for substantial weight loss. However, the report notes that future prescription volumes will depend on whether manufacturers like Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly can address widespread supply shortages affecting most of their treatments in the U.S.
The analysis is based on insurance claims data for approximately 300 million Americans. Other drugs in this category include Eli Lilly’s diabetes medication Mounjaro and an older Novo Nordisk GLP-1 drug called Saxenda, which is not as effective for weight loss as Ozempic and Wegovy.
It’s worth noting that the total number of GLP-1 prescriptions may be an underestimate, as some health plans do not cover weight loss treatments like Wegovy, leading some patients to pay for them out of pocket.
These medications come at a high cost, with Ozempic’s list price exceeding $935 per monthly package and Wegovy priced at around $1,300. They are typically intended for long-term use to help individuals maintain weight loss, similar to cholesterol-lowering drugs or blood pressure medications.
With a significant portion of adults in the U.S. dealing with obesity, the demand for effective weight loss treatments remains substantial, attracting interest from multiple pharmaceutical companies looking to capitalize on this growing market. Eli Lilly’s Mounjaro, once approved in the U.S. for weight loss, is seen as having the potential to compete with drugs from Novo Nordisk in this space.