Demand for Ozempic, other GLP-1 drugs contributing to rising premiums in Michigan

GLP-1 drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy are contributing to increasing premium rates in Michigan's small-group and individual insurance markets, the Detroit Free-Press reported July 10. 

According to the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Insurance, insurers in the state requested a 7.1 percent average premium increase on the small group market for 2024, and a 5.5 percent rate increase for the individual market. 

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan said higher than average pharmacy costs were one of the contributing factors to the proposed premium increases. 

Atheer Kaddis, PharmD, chief pharmacy officer at BCBS Michigan, told the Detroit Free-Press rising demand for GLP-1 drugs is one of the factors increasing pharmacy costs. The demand is driven by new guidelines that recommend Ozempic and similar drugs as first-line treatments for diabetes, and social media promotion of the drugs' weight loss effects, Dr. Kaddis said. 

GLP-1 drugs, including Ozempic, Trulicity, Victoza and Mounjaro, are used to treat Type 2 diabetes. Wegovy and Saxenda are approved for weight loss.  

The drugs approved to treat Type 2 diabetes have been prescribed off-label for weight loss. The drugs can cost patients more than $10,000 a year without insurance coverage. 

BCBS Michigan is requiring prior authorization for the drugs to prevent off-label use, the Detroit-Free Press reported. Mr. Kaddis said the insurer found around 25 percent of patients on GLP-1 drugs for diabetes were using them off-label. 

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