Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Statement by Treasurer Dale R. Folwell, CPA on Food and Drug Administration Approval of New Weight-Loss Drug

Raleigh, NC
Nov 8, 2023

Today, the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first GIP/GLP-1 called “Zepbound” for the purpose of weight loss.  The drug is manufactured by Eli Lily and contains tirzepatide, the same active ingredient already present in an existing medication called Mounjaro. The State Health Plan (SHP) added Mounjaro to its approved list of pharmaceuticals for the purpose of treating diabetes effective Jan. 1, 2024.

In October, the SHP Board of Trustees (Board) enacted a moratorium on new users of GLP-1 drugs for the purpose of weight loss. Pursuant to that action by the Board, the new medication will also not be covered for the purpose of weight loss.  

During the meeting, the Board cited the cost of Wegovy and Saxenda, more than $800 per user per month, as being the reason for the moratorium.  Additionally, it was noted that the cost is projected to exceed $170 million in 2024, jumping to more than $1 billion over the next six years.

“We remain concerned about the negative financial impact on premiums paid by members of the Plan for GLP-1s used for weight loss,” State Treasurer Dale R. Folwell, CPA, said.  “We are hopeful that a new competitor in the marketplace will provide for competition and create downward pressure on prices. So far as Novo Nordisk’s products are concerned, we want to pay the same price for these drugs that people in their home country of Denmark pay.

Danish multinational Novo Nordisk currently sells GLP-1 drugs like Wegovy and Saxenda for the purpose of weight loss for $296 per month in Denmark but charges more than $800 per month in the United States.