Bernie Sanders asks Danes to put pressure on Novo Nordisk over price of GLP-1 drugs

In a newspaper column, the US senator urges Danes to ”help the American people do something about the epidemic of obesity and diabetes we are facing.” Novo Nordisk says the situation is ”complex.” 
Photo: J. Scott Applewhite/AP/Ritzau Scanpix
Photo: J. Scott Applewhite/AP/Ritzau Scanpix

High prices for Ozempic and Wegovy in the US risk ruining the country’s healthcare system. The people of Denmark should therefore encourage Novo Nordisk, the company behind the two drugs, to reduce prices, writes US Senator Bernie Sanders in Danish national newspaper Politiken on Monday.

The researchers at Novo Nordisk deserve credit for developing the drugs, Sanders points out - they have the potential to be a ”game changer” for people around the world, he says.

But the drugs don’t benefit patients who can’t afford them, he points out.

According to the senator, Ozempic for type 2 diabetes currently costs USD 6,700 a month for an American, while it costs USD 410 in Germany, for example.

”So now I want to appeal to the people of Denmark and the charitable foundation that owns this hugely profitable company. Help the American people do something about the epidemic of obesity and diabetes we are facing,” the column, translated into Danish, reads. 

At the same time, the prices also risk ruining public health insurance schemes in the US such as Medicare and Medicaid, according to Bernie Sanders.

He is refering to a calculation from researchers at the American Vanderbilt University and the University of Chicago, which shows that it would cost Medicare more than USD 1trn a year to cover Wegovy and other weight loss drugs.

At the same time, 35 states in the country cannot afford to cover Wegovy at all within Medicaid.

In April, a US Senate committee launched an investigation into the pricing of Novo Nordisk drugs Ozempic and Wegovy.

Commenting on the investigation, Novo Nordisk said that pricing in the US is ”complex” and that there are many reasons why people in the US cannot afford or access the drugs.

Sanders agrees that drug pricing in the US is complex.

However, he does not believe that Novo Nordisk’s pricing in the country is based on ”anything other than greed.”

(Translated using DeepL with additional editing by Catherine Brett)

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