02 April 2024

Not a Surprise

It turns out that the diabetes and weight loss drug Ozempic (semaglutide) which costs $1,000.00 a month, only costs the equivalent of $5.00 a month to manufacture.

What, big pharma is price gouging?  Again? 

It should be noted here that its use as a weight loss drug is off label, and diabetics, for whom the drug was actually developed are unable to find the drug, and when they do, it is ruinously expensive.

The use and expansion of exclusivity over the past 40+ years had done nothing but line the pockets of big businesses:

Ozempic could be profitably produced for less than $5 a month even as maker Novo Nordisk A/S charges almost $1,000 in the US, according to a study that revives questions about prices for top-selling treatments for diabetes and obesity.

The blockbuster drug could be manufactured for 89 cents to $4.73 for a month’s supply, figures that include a profit margin, researchers at Yale University, King’s College Hospital in London and the nonprofit Doctors Without Borders reported in the journal JAMA Network Open. That compares to the monthly US list price of $968.52 for Ozempic, a weekly injection.


“This outrageously high price has the potential to bankrupt Medicare, the American people and our entire health care system,” Senator Bernie Sanders, who has held hearings about high US drug prices, said in a statement after the findings came out. The Vermont independent called on Novo Nordisk to lower the list price of Ozempic to $155 a month or less, in line with what it charges in other countries.

The study extends research showing how steep US markups are for GLP-1 drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy and underlines longstanding criticism of prices for diabetes therapies, especially insulin. On a per-month basis, Ozempic generally can be produced for less than various forms of insulin, a lifesaving diabetes drug that’s been available for decades, the study found.

IP in all of its forms is a government subsidy, where the force of the state is used to sustain prices that the market would not otherwise bear.

The expansion of the scope, length, and the geographic reach of exclusivity has been a disaster, particularly for poorer nations in the world.

It has led to an orgy of unproductive rent seeking, and an expansion in inequality.


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