Study Shows Wegovy and Ozempic Usage Declines After Two Years From Investing.com
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Study Shows Wegovy and Ozempic Usage Declines After Two Years From Investing.com

A recent analysis of claims from U.S. pharmacies found that only about 25 percent of patients were prescribed Wegovy or Ozempic, two popular weight-loss drugs. Novo Nordisk (CSE:), are still on treatment after two years. These data, which reflect a decline in use over time, provide insight into long-term adherence to these GLP-1 receptor agonists, which are notoriously expensive, costing more than $1,000 per month.

The study, which did not look at specific reasons for discontinuing treatment, offers a more in-depth look at patients’ experiences with these drugs than previous studies that focused on shorter treatment periods. The research comes amid debate about the financial impact of these treatments on patients, employers and health plans.

President Joe Biden and other officials have expressed concern about the high costs associated with the drugs, suggesting that if half of obese adults used them, the costs could reach $411 billion a year. That figure would exceed overall U.S. prescription drug spending by $5 billion in 2022.

The analysis, conducted by Prime Therapeutics and Magellan Rx Management, looked at data from 3,364 people with a commercial health plan that includes GLP-1 drugs, all of whom started filling prescriptions between January and December 2021 and were diagnosed with obesity, or a body mass index of 30 or greater. The average age of patients was 46.5 years, and 81% were women.

Last year, Prime reported that 32% of patients were still taking GLP-1 weight-loss drugs 12 months after starting treatment. The new results show that figure drops to about 15% after two years. Specifically, 24.1% of patients were still taking Wegovy and 22.2% of Ozempic at two years, compared with 36% and 47.1%, respectively, who were taking the treatment for one year.

Older GLP-1 drugs like Novo’s Saxenda showed even less long-term effectiveness, with only 7.4% of patients still taking the drug after two years. The study also shows that 26% of patients switched GLP-1 drugs during treatment, possibly due to shortages or changes in insurance coverage.

Novo Nordisk responded to the analysis by highlighting that Wegovy was only launched in June 2021 and faced initial coverage issues, and Ozempic is not approved for weight loss, which could impact patient persistence. The company said there may not be enough data to draw definitive conclusions about adherence to these treatments.

The analysis did not include new GLP-1s such as Mounjaro and Lilly’s Zepbound, which were launched after the study began. Eli Lilly declined to comment on the results.

Prime/MRx, which is owned by 19 Blue Cross and Blue Shield health plans and manages benefits for about 38 million people, did not ask patients why they stopped taking their prescription drugs.

Factors such as side effects, costs not covered by insurance, and supply shortages are likely to contribute to reduced use. Some patients may also stop treatment after losing weight, although most tend to gain weight after stopping treatment.

The consistent decline in the effectiveness of these weight loss methods over a two-year period raises concerns about the sustainability of weight loss and the achievement of long-term health outcomes.

Reuters contributed to this article.

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