April 14, 2024


The list price for the diabetes medication is $935.77 per month.
Image: Mario Tama (Getty Images)

Novo Nordisk’s nearly $1,000 per month diabetes medication Ozempic can be produced for less than $5 a month, according to a new study.

Researchers at Yale University, King’s College Hospital in London, and Doctors Without Borders found that the cost to manufacture a month’s supply of Ozempic — including with a profit margin— is between $0.89 to $4.74.

The study’s authors wrote that the findings suggest that Ozempic and other diabetes medications “can likely be manufactured for prices far below current prices, enabling wider access.”

For comparison, Ozempic’s current list price is $935.77 for four weekly injections. Although the list price doesn’t reflect what customer’s pay after available rebates are applied, that is still an almost 20,000% markup.

“While we are unaware of the analysis used in the study, we have always recognized the need for continuous evaluation of innovation and affordability levers to support greater access of our products,” Novo Nordisk told Quartz in an emailed statement.

The Danish pharma giant did not provide more details on its production costs, however, it did note that it spent nearly $5 billion in research and development last year. The company also said that 75% of its gross earnings goes toward rebates and discounts for patients.

Ozempic is a member of class of drugs known as GLP-1 agonists that help regulate blood sugar levels by triggering the pancreas to release more insulin. The medication has also become known for its weight loss side effects. Demand for Ozempic, along with Novo Nordisk’s weight loss drug Wegovy, has skyrocketed in the last year.

The company reported in January that its 2023 sales jumped 31% to 232.3 billion Danish kroner ($33.8 billion), compared with 177 billion Danish kroner ($25 billion) in 2022. It also projects sales will increase by up to 26% in 2024.

“Novo must substantially reduce the price of Ozempic in the U.S. now,” U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders wrote in post on X in response to the study’s findings.

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