Weight loss and diabetes medications are priced much higher in the US than in other countries, according to a new analysis from KFF.
The analysis examined the price of a one-month supply of semaglutide, used in the diabetes drug Ozempic and its sister drug for weight loss Wegovy, as well as the blood sugar drug tirzepatide, sold as Mounjaro to treat Type 2 diabetes and used off-label for obesity.
Wegovy topped the list, costing $1,349 in the US, quadruple the sales price in Germany and 4½ times the price in the Netherlands.
A one-month supply of Mounjaro in the US sells for $1,023, more than three times the cost of the price of the medication in Japan and more than double the price in the Netherlands.
Ozempic costs just under a grand in the US – $936 – but across the pond, people in the UK and France can buy the drug for less than $100: $93 and $83, respectively.
The list prices for these medications are not necessarily what people pay out of pocket; the manufacturers sometimes have coupons, and private insurers can negotiate for lower prices.
“Even if prices lower some, higher drug prices and higher obesity rates in the U.S. could still lead to a larger impact on overall health spending in the U.S. than in peer countries,” KFF said in a news release.
About 42% of adults ages 20 and up have obesity, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, often incurring higher medical bills.
“The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the United States was nearly $173 billion in 2019 dollars. Medical costs for adults who had obesity were $1,861 higher than medical costs for people with healthy weight,” the CDC said.
Another KFF survey published this month found that nearly 60% of adults who are trying to lose weight – and even a quarter of those who aren’t currently trying to lose weight – say they would be interested in trying a weight-loss prescription drug if it was found to be safe and effective.
More than half of adults say that insurance should cover weight-loss prescription drugs for anyone who wants to lose weight, and about 80% say that they should be covered for individuals who are overweight or obese, according to the KFF survey.
CNN’s Deidre McPhillips contributed to this report.