5 Ozempic updates

In 2024, the cost of Ozempic increased 3.5% as health systems, payers and patients scramble to manage the drug's soaring popularity. 

Five recent updates on the Type 2 diabetes drug:

1. Hospital operations 

Hospital pharmacists and pharmacy technicians are dealing with glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists daily. This work includes managing patients' regimens, collaborating with endocrinology teams, handling insurance complications and monitoring perioperative risks. 

Inpatient pharmacies are not much affected by the surging popularity of drugs such as Ozempic and Mounjaro, but surgical teams are closely monitoring these regimens because they can cause patients to regurgitate and aspirate when under anesthesia. 

2. Latest research

Potential links between Ozempic and suicidal thoughts and pancreatic cancer were unfounded, according to a preliminary FDA review and a recent study

More than 20 clinical trials are investigating whether Ozempic and other medications in its drug class can reduce inflammation. The research is new, with most trials either in phase 1 trials or among mice, but early findings indicate the medicines reduce inflammation in the liver, kidneys, heart and even the brain. If results are strong, these drugs could be potential therapies for Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases. 

Researchers are also testing how GLP-1s might affect cardiovascular diseases, addiction, dementia and cancer. Drugmakers are also working to prevent a common side effect of the drugs: muscle mass loss. 

3. Long-term use 

After patients stop receiving the weekly injectable medication, 30% reported consuming more calories compared to before they took the drug. Novo Nordisk, Ozempic's manufacturer, said, "Not unexpectedly, patients experience weight regain once they stop taking the medication." Research shows it could go either way. 

The long-term use of Ozempic — which now costs about $970 per month, 3.5% more than its 2023 list price — is causing concern for payers.

"For a lot of insurance plans, it's become the No. 1 expense they have, especially if they cover weight loss — and everyone wants to use it," Eric Tichy, PharmD, outgoing chair of the End Drug Shortages Alliance, told Becker's

4. Fake solutions

Ozempic is approved only for diabetes, but it is often written off-label for weight loss. Amid its popularity, "faux-zempic" has been spotted at compounding pharmacies, med spas and clinics across the U.S. Physicians, drugmakers, obesity organizations and the FDA are trying to stamp out the market for compounded weight loss drugs. 

Counterfeit versions of Ozempic are potentially connected with three cases of hypoglycemia, according to The American Association of Poison Control Centers. A fourth case of hypoglycemia is suspected to be linked to a compounded version of the drug.

Health officials in Austria, Lebanon and Belgium have also reported hypoglycemia cases linked to counterfeit Ozempic solutions.

5. Weight loss programs at health systems

Health systems are forging weight loss programs. At Morgantown, W.Va.-based WVU Medicine, there is now an obesity management treatment program for eligible employees and covered family members. And Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic launched a weight loss telemedicine service amid a rise in direct-to-consumer telehealth startups that offer weight loss medications.

Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars