Study May Change Coverage for Weight-Loss Drugs

Maker of Wegovy cites heart benefits, which could pressure insurers to start covering
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 8, 2023 11:12 AM CDT
Weight-Loss Drug May Cut Heart Risks, Too
This image shows packaging for Wegovy.   (Novo Nordisk via AP)

A new study suggests the popular weight-loss drug Wegovy might cut the risk of heart disease as well. If the study is confirmed—and it hasn't yet been peer-reviewed—the results could pressure insurers to start covering the pricey drug, reports the New York Times. Maker Novo Nordisk charges $1,349 a month, notes CNN, putting it out of the reach of many. Insurers, including Medicare, typically don't cover weight-loss drugs because they aren't deemed essential. But if the study shows Wegovy also conveys health benefits, that could change insurers' thinking.

The five-year study involved 17,500 overweight or obese people ages 45 or older, none of whom had diabetes, per Reuters. Those who took Wegovy saw a 20% lower risk of a serious heart problems compared to those on a placebo, a figure higher than expected. The landmark study "is the first to show that a weight-loss medication leads to long-term cardiovascular benefits," per STAT. Wegovy came on the market in 2021 and typically leads to a weight loss of about 15% if the injections are combined with improved diet and exercise, according to Reuters. (Novo Nordisk also makes the popular Ozempic, and it's seeking approval to sell both weight-loss drugs in pill form.)

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