Big Pharma Increases Prices of More Than 700 Medications in 2024 Already

By: Alec Donaldson | Published: Feb 09, 2024

Pharmaceutical companies in the U.S. have come under fire after an independent research organization revealed they’ve already increased the price of over 700 drugs this year. 

The price surge includes medications such as the off-label weight loss drugs Mounjaro and Ozempic and the autoimmune disease medication Enbrel.

Diabetes Drugs Used for Weight Loss

Mounjaro and Ozempic are two common medications prescribed to patients with diabetes. They help to regulate the blood pressure of those suffering from the disease. 

A woman in a white sports bra holds a measuring tape across her stomach

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However, they have become a popular weight loss drug in recent years, which has led to severe shortages across the states. 

46 Brooklyn Releases Price Hike Figures

The Ohio-based non-profit organization 46 Brooklyn Research released figures that claim over 700 drugs have seen an average price increase of 4.5% since the beginning of the year. 

A man stares at a computer screen which displays an increase in prices

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Of the drugs shown in their data, both Mounjaro and Ozempic have seen a considerable increase in price. 

Diabetes Drugs Now Cost Over $1000 Per Month

According to 46 Brooklyn’s reports, Mounjaro, produced by the company Eli Lilly, has risen by over 4.5%. Now, it will cost more than $1000 for a month’s supply of the drug.

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Meanwhile, Ozempic, from Novo Nordisk, now costs around $985 per month after seeing a 3.5% increase in price. 

Novo Nordisk Releases a Statement

In the wake of 46 Brooklyns report, Novo Nordisk released a statement during an interview with CBS MoneyWatch. 

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Nordisk claims it, “Increases the list price of some of our medicines each year in response to changes in the health care system, market conditions and the impact of inflation.”  

Rise in the Price of Drugs

“Technically, most brand prescription drug list price increases occur in either January or July each year, but the greatest number take place in January (and thus, January gets all the attention),” 46 Brooklyn wrote in an article. 

A doctor dressed in a white coat holds a selection of pills

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“By our counts, since 2018, more than 60% of all brand drug list price increases that occur throughout the course of each year are implemented in the month of January,” they continued.


Various Other Drugs See an Increase in Price

Along with Ozempic and Mounjaro, several other popular medications saw an increase in price this year.

A man dressed in a white shirt empties a bottle of oxycontin onto a table

Source: Darren McCollester/Getty Images

An autoimmune disease drug, Enbrel, rose by around 5%. Oxycontin, a popular pain relief drug, rose by 9%, and Wellbutrin, an antidepressant, rose by nearly 10% in price. 


Restrictions for Those Who Need It Most

With Ozempic’s increase in popularity as a weight loss drug, and now the recent hike in price, it could prohibit Medicaid recipients from obtaining the medication. 

A visibly ill woman lies in a hospital bed as she speaks with a doctor

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While Medicaid currently covers both the cost of Mounjaro and Ozempic as a diabetic medication, it’s not available for everyone who seeks it for its weight loss benefits.


Weight Loss Medication Remains Unaffordable

An article published by the independent health policy research group KFF claims that Americans without health insurance may struggle to afford weight loss medication. 

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“Almost 1/3 of U.S. adults had obesity in 2021, and without insurance coverage, new weight loss medications likely remain unaffordable and inaccessible for many individuals, and especially for Medicaid enrollees who are low income,” they wrote.


Americans Happy to Try Weight-Loss Drugs Covered by Insurance

According to a poll from KFF, Americans would be interested in trying weight loss drugs so long as they’re covered by insurance.

A red-haired woman is surrounded by a selection of pills at her desk

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“Half of adults in the U.S. would be interested in taking prescription weight-loss drugs, though interest drops if the drug is not covered by insurance or after hearing patients might gain weight back after stopping use,” said a KFF representative.


Nordisk Claims Figures Don’t Represent True Price

According to Nordisk, the manufacturer of Ozempic, the prices listed by online research groups, including Brooklyn 46, don’t always represent what patients with insurance pay. 

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“That’s because after we set the list price, we negotiate with the companies that pay for our medicines (called payers) to ensure our products remain on their formularies so patients have access to our medicines,” the company said.


Health Insurance Companies Help Set Prices

Nordisk explained that the payers dictate some of the prices by working directly with health insurance companies.

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“These payers then work directly with health insurance companies to set prices and co-pay amounts,” they said.