June 2024

How Big Pharma works – against us

weekend blog

You’ll all have no doubt heard about the new “miracle drugs” – Ozempic and Wegovy. At first they were targetted at the very lucrative weight loss market. But now a new study tells us they can also reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes:

  • Weight loss jab could reduce heart attack risk by 20%” says the BBC.
  • Weight loss drug could reduce heart attack risk by 20%” says the BBC’s in-house journal – The Guardian
  • Obesity drug cuts risk of heart attack or stroke regardless of weight lost” says Sky News
  • Weight loss drug also protects against heart disease” writes Scientific American
  • and lots of other media contained the same story

But there are some curious aspects to this story:

  • the study was funded by Novo Nordisk – the manufacturer of the two drugs. Ooops!
  • the latest version of the study was completed a couple of months ago. The fact that it is now being so widely reported suggests that what we’re getting may be a well-funded PR campaign rather than journalists genuinely looking at the detailed study results. Some cynics have even suggested that the ‘miracle, breakthrough drugs’ campaign has been launched to try to distract us from stories about the negative and sometimes dangerous side-effects of these two drugs

But perhaps the most important concern with Ozempic and Wegovy is their price. The manufacturing cost is reported to be around $4.73 for a month’s supply. In the UK, a month’s supply can cost between £169 and £255 depending on the strength. But a new Yale study found that, while Ozempic costs less than $5 a month to manufacture, Novo Nordisk charges Americans nearly $1,000 a month ($935.77) for this drug, while the same exact product can be purchased for just $155 a month in Canada and just $59 in Germany.

Of course, it is expensive to develop and test new medical products. But the profit margins Novo Nordisk are reportedly making are really quite wonderful, if you are fortunate enough to hold shares in Novo Nordisk. US senator Bernie Saunders has demanded that Novo Nordisk reduce the US price to the same level that is being charged in other countries. Ozempic maker Novo Nordisk said in response to questions: “Every country has a unique health-care system and approaches pricing of medicines in different ways. Outside the US, countries have different regulatory requirements with regard to the pricing of medicines, including negotiating with respective government entities.

Novo’s combined 2023 sales of Ozempic and Wegovy topped $18 billion. And that’s before the conveniently-positive findings of the latest Novo-Nordisk-sponsored study linking the drugs to reductions in heart attacks and strokes. Heaven knows how much sales will be once these drugs are used for other conditions in addition to weight loss. Patents linked to the drugs are likely to expire in June 2033. Some reporters have breathlessly suggested that these drugs could be as widely used as statins. Perhaps Ozempic amd Wegovy will be just as lucrative and declared just as “safe and effective” as the “safe and effective” Covid-19 vaccines forced on us by politicians who (some cynics might believe) are in the pockets of the Big Pharma giants?

1 comment to How Big Pharma works – against us

  • A Thorpe

    It reminds me of thalidomide. It was developed in Germany and I read that after the birth defects were discovered one person (I don’t recall who) allowed its use to be continued to confirm it was causing birth defects. Now we have the blood contamination issue in the news. Sunak and Starmer are apologising but they have nothing to do with it. Why do they think apologies are important? What we need is to identify the criminals responsible for this. We also want the criminals responsible for the Covid disaster to be identified.

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