News Release

Drugs Used for Weight Loss Could Cost Americans Much More Than People in Peer Countries

In addition to having the highest obesity rates, the U.S is currently facing significantly higher prices for several major drugs used for weight loss and other health needs, according to a new KFF analysis of the list prices for semaglutide and tirzepatide drugs.

Ozempic, which has been approved in the U.S. for diabetes, is more than five times as expensive in the U.S. ($936) as in Japan ($169), which has the second highest list price. Similarly, Wegovy, which has the same active ingredient and was approved for weight loss, is nearly four times as expensive in the U.S. ($1,349) as in Germany ($328.)

 The bar chart compares the U.S. to seven peer countries by the list price for semaglutide and tirzepatide drugs that are used for weight loss, including Ozempic and Wegovy. Ozempic is over five times as expensive in the U.S. ($936) as in Japan ($169) Wegovy is four times as expensive in the U.S. ($1,349) as in Germany ($328.)

The chart above shows list prices available through website searches for four weekly shots or a 30-day supply. List prices are not necessarily net prices paid as manufacturers provide insurer rebates and patient coupons. Private insurers and employers in the U.S. may also be able to negotiate lower prices with drug manufacturers or get larger rebates.

Even if prices lower some, higher drug prices and higher obesity rates in the U.S. could still lead to a larger impact on overall health spending in the U.S. than in peer countries.

One-third of U.S. adults (33.6%) have obesity compared to an average of 17.1% across peer nations. KFF polling also found that about half of adults in the U.S. would be interested in taking prescription weight-loss drugs, though interest drops if not covered by insurance or after hearing they might gain weight back after end the use.

The full analysis and other data on health costs are available in the Peterson-KFF Health System Tracker, an online information hub dedicated to monitoring and assessing the performance of the U.S. health system.

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The independent source for health policy research, polling, and news, KFF is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, California.