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One of the biggest hurdles to the mass appeal of a new class of GLP-1 weight loss drugs remains their sky-high prices. Insurance coverage, however, is playing a fundamental role in addressing these affordability concerns, with Eli Lilly and Company coming out today with important price updates for those with insurance coverage in the US.
Glucagon-Like Peptide-1, or GLP-1 for short, plays an important role in regulating hunger. These drugs stimulate the release of insulin in the pancreas, block the unhelpful release of glucagon after meals to prevent excess glucose from entering the bloodstream, and slow gastric emptying to reduce the overall food intake. Concurrently, GLP-1 receptors also suppress the brain’s stress response and reward/reinforcement mechanism to increase the feeling of satiation.
Eli Lilly and Company sells its Tirzepatide GLP-1 cocktail under the Mounjaro and Zepbound labels. Without any insurance coverage, a monthly dose of Zepbound costs $1,060. In comparison, Novo Nordisk’s comparable GLP-1 offering, Wegovy, costs around $1,300 without any insurance coverage.
This brings us to the crux of the matter. Eli Lilly and Company has now announced the following price updates:
- For those commercially insured with specific coverage for Zepbound, the drug may cost as low as $25 for a 1-month or 3-month prescription.
- For those with commercial insurance but without specific coverage for Zepbound, a 1-month course of the drug is likely to cost around $550, constituting a 50 percent discount to Zepbound’s list price.
Do note that Novo Nordisk’s Wegovy GLP-1 offering is also available for around $25 per month in the US for those with specific coverage. The European pharma giant believes that around 50 million Americans could be eligible for Wegovy coverage.
Today’s Zepbound price updates from Eli Lilly and Company serve as a critical step in establishing competitive parity with Novo Nordisk. As we’ve noted in a number of our previous posts on this topic, the two companies are currently pursuing various avenues to try to extract maximum possible insurance coverage for their bespoke GLP-1 offerings. Nono Nordisk cited the results of a study a few weeks back to claim that its Semaglutide-based offerings reduce the risk of death from heart-related complications by 20 percent while also inducing significant weight loss. In response, Eli Lilly and Company recently touted another study that showed increased efficacy of its Tirzepatide-based offerings, with nearly half (42.3 percent) of the eligible patients able to shed 15 percent or more of their body weight with Tirzepatide as opposed to just around 20 percent of the eligible patients able to achieve this magnitude of weight loss with Semaglutide.
Capital Group recently estimated that the Total Addressable Market (TAM) of these GLP-1 drugs is well over 2 billion people. This supports the projection that the annual sales of these drugs will hit the $100 billion level by 2030.