Novo Nordisk prices Wegovy weight-loss drug for German launch


Novo Nordisk prices Wegovy weight-loss drug for German launch

FRANKFURT, July 14 (Reuters) – Novo Nordisk (NOVOb.CO) said on Friday its popular weight-loss drug Wegovy will cost 301.91 euros ($338.35) for four weeks of treatment at the highest dose in Germany, as it prepares to launch in Europe’s largest pharmaceutical market at the end of the month.

Calling on German doctors to limit prescriptions to patients with medical needs, the Danish company said in a statement pharmacies in Germany will be able to place orders for the weekly injection with wholesale distributors from next week.

Production problems and Novo Nordisk’s struggle to keep up with overwhelming demand in the United States, by far the largest market, have led to a slower-than-expected roll out of Wegovy in Europe.

A lot of the surging demand is driven by non-obese people who want to shed extra pounds, including celebrities eager to make that known on social media.

Germany’s health system is among the most restrictive in Europe when it comes to reimbursement of weight-loss drugs, as only people who pay from their own pocket or have certain private health insurance plans will be able to get it.

In Europe, Wegovy is so far only available in Norway and Denmark, where it costs between $160 and $350 per month without reimbursement from private insurers.

The starter dose of 0.25 milligram will be priced in Germany at 171.92 euros for 28 days, which works out at about 187 euros for a month, according to Reuters calculations.

The dosage of the weekly Wegovy injection is gradually stepped up over 16 weeks to level off at the maintenance dose of 2.4 milligrams. The monthly costs for patients in Germany for the maintenance dose work out at 328 euros.

“Given the expected high demand and a limited supply, we ask physicians to prescribe responsibly,” Novo said in a statement.

It urged German physicians to prioritise patients with a body mass index of at least 30 or at least 27 for those suffering from a chronic condition, as defined by European Union regulators in their market clearance early last year.

People in Germany with a prescription will likely be able to fill it at a pharmacy at the end of this month, it added.

The surging demand for Wegovy has also driven off-label prescriptions of Novo’s diabetes drug Ozempic, which is a lower-dose version of the popular injection.

($1 = 0.8923 euros)

Reporting by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Friederike Heine and Emelia Sithole-Matarise
Source: Reuters