Ozempic and Wegovy Prescriptions Surge 300% in Under Three Years
According to a recent analysis by analytics firm Trilliant Health, the last three months of 2022 saw U.S. healthcare providers write over nine million prescriptions for Ozempic, Wegovy, and similar drugs used to treat diabetes and obesity. This represents a staggering 300% increase in quarterly prescriptions between early 2020 and the end of last year. Novo Nordisk's Ozempic, a weekly diabetes injection, accounted for more than 65% of total prescriptions by the end of 2022, primarily prescribed off-label for its weight loss benefits.
Rising Demand and Market Impact
The data confirms the growing demand for these drugs, known as GLP-1s, which have garnered attention and interest from both Americans and Wall Street due to their significant weight loss effects. GLP-1s work by mimicking a hormone in the gut to suppress appetite. However, the future prescription volumes will depend on various factors, including the resolution of widespread supply shortages affecting Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly, the manufacturers of these drugs.
Undercounted Prescriptions and Out-of-Pocket Costs
The analysis, based on insurance claims data for approximately 300 million Americans, also reveals that the total number of GLP-1 prescriptions is likely an undercount. This is because some health plans do not cover weight loss treatments like Wegovy, leaving patients to bear the cost themselves. Wealthier individuals, such as Hollywood celebrities and tech mogul Elon Musk, may have the means to pay for these drugs out of pocket. With Ozempic priced at over $935 per monthly package and Wegovy at around $1,300, these drugs are intended for long-term use, similar to cholesterol-lowering drugs or blood pressure medications.
In the growing weight loss industry, other drugmakers are vying to capitalize on the trend. Analysts suggest that Eli Lilly's diabetes treatment, Mounjaro, has the potential to rival Novo Nordisk's drugs once it receives approval in the U.S. for weight loss. With more than two in five adults classified as obese and approximately 1 in 11 adults suffering from severe obesity, the demand for effective weight loss treatments remains high, presenting opportunities for pharmaceutical companies in this market.
Surge in Ozempic and Wegovy Prescriptions: Implications for New Businesses
The recent surge in prescriptions for Ozempic, Wegovy, and similar drugs signals a growing demand for treatments addressing diabetes and obesity. This trend, which saw a 300% increase in quarterly prescriptions in under three years, presents both opportunities and challenges for new businesses in the pharmaceutical sector.
Market Opportunities Amid Rising Demand
The rising demand for GLP-1s, drugs that suppress appetite and promote significant weight loss, opens up new avenues for businesses looking to enter this market. With more than two in five adults classified as obese and approximately 1 in 11 adults suffering from severe obesity, the need for effective weight loss treatments is high. This presents a fertile ground for new business formation in the pharmaceutical industry.
Challenges: Supply Shortages and High Costs
However, potential new businesses must also grapple with the challenges this market presents. Widespread supply shortages affecting major manufacturers like Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly could pose significant obstacles. Additionally, the high out-of-pocket costs of these drugs, due to some health plans not covering weight loss treatments, could limit the customer base for new businesses.
Competition in the Weight Loss Industry
The weight loss industry is seeing increased competition, with other drugmakers seeking to capitalize on this trend. For instance, Eli Lilly's diabetes treatment, Mounjaro, is poised to rival Novo Nordisk's drugs once it receives U.S. approval for weight loss. New businesses entering this market will need to navigate this competitive landscape while addressing the challenges and leveraging the opportunities this growing demand presents.