April 13, 2024


A clinical trial that found that Wegovy could cut the risk of serious heart events by 20%.
Image: Hollie Adams (Reuters)

Medicare could soon cover the popular weight loss drug Wegovy, after federal regulators expanded the approved use of the drug to include reducing serious heart risks for adults who are obese or overweight. Wegovy belongs to the same class of drug as the diabetes medication Ozempic, which is known for its weight loss side effects.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services told Quartz that it is reviewing the regulators’ decision and will share more information when appropriate. The agency added that prescription plans for Medicare, the federal insurance program for Americans 65 and older, could add drugs to their formularies at any time during the plan year.

On Mar. 8, the U.S. Congressional Budget Office said it expects that “Medicare will cover those [weight-loss] drugs for the treatment of cardiovascular conditions among people with obesity” if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves them for such uses.

This month, the FDA did just that when it approved the use of Wegovy for reducing the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular events for people who are overweight or obese. The change comes just months after Wegovy maker Novo Nordisk announced results from a clinical trial that found the drug cut the risk of serious heart events by 20%.

Wegovy supply is still behind

Even if Medicare begins covering Wegovy, patients may struggle to fill their prescriptions, as Novo Nordisk has faced a hard time meeting skyrocketing demand for the drug. Since May 2023, Novo Nordisk has been limiting starter doses to ensure there is enough supply for patients already on the drug.

The company announced in February that in an effort to address a shortage of Wegovy, it acquired three facilities from its company’s largest shareholder Novo Holdings for $11 billion. The deal was made in connection with Novo Holdings’s acquisition of the drug manufacturing company Catalent.

Novo Nordisk said in a statement that the acquisition will increase the company’s production capacity from 2026 and onwards.

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