DENMARK — Novo Nordisk CEO, Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen, has announced that the Danish pharmaceutical company has no plans to reduce the price of its weight-loss drug Wegovy (semaglutide).
However, in a recent interview with the Financial Times, Jørgensen revealed that the company is considering innovative “buy now, pay later” options as part of its strategy to enhance global access to this groundbreaking treatment.
The move comes amid discussions with healthcare systems to establish pricing models that allow upfront adoption of Wegovy, enabling these systems to witness the benefits before making payments down the road.
Jørgensen highlighted the challenge of justifying substantial one-time payments upfront, especially when significant savings are anticipated over time.
This approach, often seen with one-time gene therapies, is aimed at sharing the risk to facilitate broader adoption.
Wegovy, known for its effectiveness in aiding weight loss, has demonstrated an additional benefit in the Phase III SELECT trial.
The study indicates a notable 20% risk reduction in major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE) over a period of up to five years compared to a placebo.
Detailed findings presented at the recent American Heart Association (AHA) conference suggest that the cardiovascular advantages may extend beyond weight loss alone.
Despite Wegovy’s US list price exceeding US$1,300 per month, only about half of commercial insurers cover it, and it is not available on Medicare.
Novo Nordisk is gradually introducing the drug in Europe, where the cost is lower, but reimbursement may be limited to patients with the highest body mass index (BMI).
Jørgensen acknowledges that, given the vast potential patient population, the current number of Wegovy users will likely constitute a small fraction.
The recent entry of Eli Lilly’s Zepbound (tirzepatide), a rival weight-loss treatment, does not exert pricing pressure on Novo Nordisk.
Although Zepbound is expected to be listed at approximately 20% less than Wegovy, Jørgensen emphasizes the company’s flexibility in pricing schemes.
Novo Nordisk is actively exploring arrangements with healthcare systems to facilitate the adoption of Wegovy upfront, emphasizing the company’s commitment to serving patients effectively.