Viral Weight Loss Drugs Like Ozempic and Wegovy Sell For $10,000. Here’s Why.

Viral demand for the shots producing dramatic weight loss has sent prices upward.

From Hollywood starlets to the millions of the 3.9 million members of the #loseit forum on Reddit, it seems like everyone has been talking about viral weight-loss drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy.

In New York City, the busy 42nd-Times Square station has boasted a wall of full-size Ozempic ads for several months now.

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Both made by Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk  (NONOF) , Ozempic and Wegovy are a weekly injection shot that binds to the body’s GLP-1 receptors to lower blood sugar levels and curb appetite through a feeling of satiety.


Here’s Why Ozempic Can Cost More Than $10,000 A Year

Ozempic was approved as a treatment for Type 2 diabetes while Wegovy is meant only for weight loss.

The latter first came out in Denmark in 2018 but, starting in the summer of 2022, a number of TikTok influencers and celebrities started showing off dramatic weight loss results — and, in doing so, helped both drugs balloon in popularity.

Many doctors reported having patients come in asking for that “weight loss shot” while Novo Nordisk brought in 59.75 billion Danish crowns (approximately $8.56 billion USD) in 2022 sales. The wider weight-management drug market is expected to be worth more than $54 billion by 2030.

While someone with a history of diabetes, obesity or other health conditions can in theory get drugs like Ozempic covered by health insurance, most policies have not been doing it, given the high price and new nature of the drug. Ozempic currently costs between $750 and $1,000 a month.

A ‘Lifelong Medication’ That Is Currently Facing Shortages

“As of yet, most eligible people can’t get them, because they’re prohibitively expensive,” Bloomberg reporters Emma Court and Robert Langreth write in a long feature on the weight-loss drug. “In the US they cost upwards of $10,000 a year, potentially for the rest of someone’s life.”

Heightened popularity have also been causing shortages for people who were prescribed it as a diabetes medication and, in some cases, even black-market sales at exorbitant costs.

Even as Novo Nordisk started ramping up production of the drug itself in 2023, the pens used to inject it are still not being manufactured fast enough to meet demand.

And while some influencers have improperly advertised Ozempic and Wegovy as a quick way to drop some pounds and then go on to one’s regular life, Novo Nordisk has always positioned them as a something one takes permanently to treat chronic conditions. As such, those who paid for a few doses and then either couldn’t find or afford more usually end up regaining the weight.

“Data from our clinical trials for Wegovy showed that, not unexpectedly, patients experience weight regain once they stop taking the medication,” Novo Nordisk told NBC News.

While a given drug’s “star factor” has limiting availability for those who may need it the most, both demand and current prices may be offset by the number of new drugs to treat obesity and diabetes are currently popping up on the market.

Tirzepatide, which pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and Co.  (LLY) – Get Free Report launched in May 2022 under the brand name  Mounjaro, has also been seeing a rise in prescriptions for patients who have struggled to lose large amounts of weight.

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