The cost of preventing a heart attack with Wegovy? $1M for insurers

Wegovy, Novo Nordisk's expensive weight loss drug, could reduce the risk of cardiovascular events — but at a steep cost to insurers, Bloomberg reported Aug. 31. 

A study published in August showed Wegovy led to a 20 percent reduction in major cardiovascular events. An analysis from analytics firm Airfinity Ltd. found that insurers would have to pay $1.1 million for multiple patients to take Wegovy for multiple years to prevent one heart attack, Bloomberg reported. 

According to Airfinity's estimates, an insurer would need to pay for Wegovy treatment for 60 people with cardiovascular disease and obesity for three years to prevent one stroke, heart attack or cardiovascular death. 

Many insurers and employers are hesitant to cover Wegovy and other GLP-1 drugs, which can cost upward of $10,000 annually. 

As of June, 69 percent of patients do not have insurance coverage for GLP-1s for anti-obesity or diabetes, a 50 percent decline in coverage since December, according to data from weight management platform Found. 

Medicare is barred from paying for weight loss drugs for beneficiaries. Legislation introduced in July aims to overturn the ban. 

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