"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Most people stop taking expensive weight reduction drugs, study shows

July 12, 2023 – Most individuals who take latest, highly acclaimed prescription weight-loss drugs like Wegovy stop taking them after a 12 months, a brand new report says.

And the health care costs of those that consumed these drugs “increased significantly” over the course of the 12 months, in response to the evaluation by Prime Therapeuticsa big pharmacy profit manager.

“Our analysis shows that treating weight loss with these drugs requires a large initial financial investment,” said Dr. Joseph Leach, senior vice chairman and chief medical officer of Prime Therapeutics.

About a 3rd of patients were still taking the drugs after one 12 months. The total cost of treating patients taking Wegovy or the same drug rose from a mean of $12,371 to $19,657, a rise of 59 percent.

For those that didn't take the medication, total costs fell by 4%.

Prime Therapeutics is owned by 19 U.S. Blue Cross and Blue Shield health insurers and manages pharmacy advantages for about 38 million people.

The study checked out greater than 4,000 individuals with private medical health insurance, all of whom received latest prescriptions for the drugs from a category referred to as GLP-1 agonists in 2021. They were diagnosed with obesity, prediabetes or a body mass index of 30 or higher.

About half got injections of Novo Nordisk's Ozempic or Wegovy, each of which contain semaglutide. Others took Saxenda (liraglutide), an older drug from Novo GLP, or Rybelsus, an oral version of semaglutide.

GLP-1 drugs were developed to manage blood sugar in individuals with type 2 diabetes. They have also been found to suppress appetite and reduce hunger.

The drug can cost greater than $1,000 monthly.

“This analysis suggests that a lot of money may be being spent on people who are unlikely to get long-term health benefits from them,” Khrysta Baig, a health policy researcher at Vanderbilt University who reviewed the findings, told Reuters. “We need to be more targeted about who has access to them if we are to realize their full potential.”

Novo Nordisk didn't comment on the report back to Reuters, but said in an announcement that “obesity requires long-term treatment” and that “expanding coverage is key to ensuring that those who need (therapy) have access to and can afford their medicines.”