FDA commissioner: Agency, CMS discussing Medicare weight loss drug coverage

The FDA and CMS are discussing how to handle obesity drugs in Medicare, Bloomberg Law reported June 7. 

The two agencies are in talks over "what to do about obesity drugs," FDA Commissioner Robert Califf said at the Biotechnology Innovation Organization convention in Boston. Mr. Califf's comments indicate CMS could expand weight loss benefits, according to Bloomberg Law's report. 

New GLP-1 drugs to treat obesity and diabetes can be expensive, costing upward of $10,000 a year without insurance coverage. GLP-1 drugs, including Ozempic, Trulicity, Victoza and Mounjaro, are used to treat Type 2 diabetes. Wegovy and Saxenda are approved for weight loss.  

Under current law, Medicare is prohibited from covering weight loss drugs. Drug manufacturers are lobbying Congress to require the program to pay for the drugs. Proposed legislation to pay for the drugs has stalled. 

The drugs could have a big effect on Medicare Part D spending. If 10 percent of people with obesity covered by Medicare were prescribed a brand-name semaglutide, a type of GLP-1, the drug would cost Medicare $26.8 billion annually, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in March.

Read the full Bloomberg Law report here.

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