April 19, 2024


Wegovy

The list price for a month’s supply of Wegovy is $1,349.02.
Image: Hollie Adams (Reuters)

Major U.S. health insurers with Medicare Part D plans have started covering Novo Nordisk’s popular weight loss drug Wegovy for its heart-health benefits, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Wegovy has the same active ingredient as the company’s diabetes medication Ozempic, which is also known for its slimming side effects. Medicare Part D plans are prohibited from covering weight loss drugs, however, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued a new guidance this month allowing drugs that have been approved for additional medical uses to be covered.

The guidance came after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expanded the approved use of Wegovy on March 8, months after its maker Novo Nordisk announced results from a clinical trial that found the drug cut the risk of serious heart events by 20%.

Kaiser Permanente told the outlet that its Medicare plans will start covering the drug immediately. Elevance Health said it will start coverage of the medication in the coming weeks. Elevance said it plans to eventually cover the drug for people on commercial plans too.

CVS Health will also begin covering the drug through its insurance branch Aetna, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“Aetna follows Medicare guidelines for Medicare Advantage and Part D plans,” a CVS spokesperson told Quartz in an emailed statement.

Elevance, and Kaiser Permanente did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Wegovy supply is still behind

The expanded coverage of the drug could make it even harder for patients to fill their prescriptions, as Novo Nordisk has had a difficult 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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