Ozempic, Wegovy Weight Loss Drugs See High Dropout Rate Within Two Years Over Cost-Effectiveness Concerns

By Thea Felicity

Jul 10, 2024 01:00 PM EDT

Ozempic, Wegovy Weight Loss Drugs See High Dropout Rate Within Two Years Due to Cost and Effectiveness
This photograph taken on February 23, 2023, in Paris, shows the anti-diabetic medication "Ozempic" (semaglutide) made by Danish pharmaceutical company "Novo Nordisk". On TikTok, the hashtag "#Ozempic" has reached more than 500 million views: this anti-diabetic medication is trending on the social network for its' slimming properties, a phenomenon that is causing supply shortages and worrying doctors.
(Photo : JOEL SAGET/AFP via Getty Images)

A US pharmacy study found that most patients prescribed Wegovy or Ozempic medications for weight loss discontinued their use within two years.

Prime Therapeutics and Magellan Rx Management's research conducted data from over 3,300 individuals enrolled in commercial health plans that cover GLP-1 drugs, specifically finding that only one in four patients remained on these popular drugs after the two-year mark due to concerns over the sustainability of  Wegovy and Ozempic for weight management. 

Despite initial prescriptions indicating a commitment to treatment, the data revealed that only about 15% of patients remained on their medication two years later. 

Why Patients Stopped Taking Weight Loss Drugs After 2 Years

Patients prescribed Wegovy or Ozempic for weight loss often discontinue their medications primarily due to the high cost of these GLP-1 receptor agonists. While there has been an initial commitment to treatment, sustained usage becomes financially unsustainable for many patients, especially when combined with the requirement for prolonged usage to achieve meaningful weight loss results.

There are also challenges related to the long-term management of obesity with these medications. Other factors likely include potential side effects, the need for continued adherence to lifestyle changes, and the gradual decline of the initial efficacy over time. 

READ MORE: Novo Nordisk Announces $4.1 Billion Investment in North Carolina for Wegovy and Ozempic Production Boost

Why Is Weight Loss Medication So Expensive?

According to CNBC, these medications, known for their efficacy in aiding weight loss, come at a high cost, often exceeding $1,000 per month. This financial burden, coupled with the need for prolonged usage to achieve meaningful results, has raised questions about their cost-effectiveness for patients, employers, and government health plans.

There is increasing concern and objection regarding the cost and availability of GLP-1 medications used for weight loss. President Joe Biden even pointed out that if these drugs were widely used, they could lead to an annual cost of $411 billion for the country. This amount exceeds what was spent on all prescription drugs combined in 2022.

Dr. Rekha Kumar, an obesity specialist, and chief medical officer at Found, an online weight-loss program, emphasized the challenge of balancing effective obesity treatment with economic feasibility. "GLP-1s for all isn't cost-effective."

READ NEXT: Ozempic Craze Drives Record Demand for Smaller Clothing Sizes

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