Ozempic Costs 1,300% More in US Than in Europe: Here’s Why

By: Lauren Fokas | Published: Jun 29, 2024

Over the past year, Ozempic has become the most well-known and controversial medication on the planet, and the company that makes it, Novo Nordisk, has made a fortune off the drug.

However, it’s recently come to America’s attention that Novo Nordisk sells Ozempic in the US for over 1,300% more than it does in Europe. Some say it’s corporate greed, while others argue the American pharmaceutical industry is to blame.

Novo Nordisk: The Makers of Ozempic

Novo Nordisk is a Denmark-based multinational pharmaceutical company famous for creating the wildly popular drug Ozempic.

The logo for Novo Nordisk against a background photo of company offices

Source: @Acquired/YouTube

Novo originally designed and sold Ozempic to fight the symptoms of Type 2 diabetes, but when everyone found out that it could also cause extreme satiety and lead to dramatic weight loss, people around the world started begging their doctors for a prescription.

Ozempic Made Novo Nordisk $14 Billion in 2023

While the company was certainly profiting billions before the drug became an international sensation, Ozempic changed everything for Novo Nordisk.

A digital illustration of an increasing stock price

Source: iStock

Ozempic made Novo more than $14 billion and accounted for more than 41% of its total sales in 2023. In response, shares in the pharmaceutical company skyrocketed by 53% last year alone.

Novo Nordisk Is Now Has More Money Than Denmark

In January 2024, Novo Nordisk became the second European country in history to be worth more than $500 billion.

A photograph of several weight loss injections

Source: iStock

As the national GDP of Denmark is only $410 billion, that means that Novo Nordisk is officially richer than the entire country it comes from. And it’s continuing to make more money every day.

How Much Does Ozempic Cost?

As of June 2024, a month-long prescription of Ozempic costs between $935 and $1,349 in the United States. However, the same amount only costs $140 in Germany and about $200 in the United Kingdom.

Two hands hold and Ozempic injection

Source: Adobe Stock

Clearly, Americans are paying more than 1,000% more than their European peers for the exact same drug. So the question is: Why is Ozempic more expensive in the US?

Senator Bernie Sanders Says Novo Nordisk Is Simply Greedy

When this information became public knowledge, many people were outraged, but none as much as Senator Bernie Sanders.  Sanders, who has dedicated his four-decade-long career in politics defending Americans against government corruption and corporate greed argues that Novo Nordisk’s price tags are nothing short of offensive.

Senator Bernie Sanders speaks with vigor at an event

Source: @TheYoungTurks/YouTube

Sanders said in a recent statement, regarding the price gauge of Ozempic, “The American people are sick and tired of being ripped off by giant pharmaceutical companies who make huge profits every year while charging us outrageous prices.”


Sanders Wants Novo Nordisk to Stand in Front of the Senate

Sen. Sanders continued, “It’s obvious. It’s simple. We want Novo Nordisk to stop ripping off the American people and charging us prices that are far higher than they charge in other countries.”

Bernie Sanders speaks into a microphone in front of a large American flag

Source: @GlobalEyeNews/X

Sanders, as chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, is even going so far as to legally require Novo Nordisk to explain their pricing to the US Senate.


Novo Nordisk's CEO Responded to Sanders' Request

Somewhat surprisingly, Novo Nordisk’s CEO Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen responded to Sanders’ request by volunteering to stand and explain himself in front of the Senate this September.

The official photograph of Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen, CEO of Novo Nordisk

Source: Novo Nordisk

A representative for the pharmaceutical company told the press, “As part of Novo Nordisk’s continued efforts to cooperate with the chairman, our CEO reaffirmed our position. He and Chairman Sanders had a productive call and agreed to find a mutually acceptable date for a hearing.”


Novo Nordisk Told Sen. Sanders Why They Charge More for Ozempic in America

It seems that in addition to discussing the hearing in September, CEO Jørgensen also took the time to explain to the enraged Sen. Sanders why Ozempic is so much more expensive in the US than it is in Europe.

The image shows three medical professionals standing side by side, cropped from the chest down to the waist

Source: Freepik

He blamed the US healthcare system, stating that in the US, a significant percentage of drug sales go to middlemen because of corruption within the pharmaceutical industry. In Europe, the company receives 100% of the sale price, so it can keep the asking price much lower.


Inconsistencies With Novo Nordisk's Claims

However, some have noted that, while Novo Nordisk may certainly have to pay a higher percentage to the so-called American middlemen, they still don’t need to charge the exorbitant prices they have set.

A faceless person hands over hundreds of dollars in cash to another person

Source: Freepik

Bloomberg reported that Novo Nordisk still keeps at least 60% of the profits from drug sales in the US. And as JAMA network explained, it only costs about $5 to make a month’s supply of Ozempic.


Novo Nordisk Is Still Making Far More Money Off American Prescriptions

Therefore, Novo Nordisk would still be making between $550 and $800 dollars a month per prescription throughout the US. Whereas in Europe, they’re making less than $150 from each patient every month.

Stacks of cash in a metallic briefcase on a table

Source: Pixabay/Pexels

Novo Nordisk has yet to comment on its exact profit margins, but it does seem willing to adjust the extremely high price tags: “We look forward to discussing solutions that ensure access and affordability for all patients within the complex U.S. healthcare system.”


Will Ozempic Be Cheaper Next Year?

What will happen at that Senate meeting in September is anyone’s guess. However, some financial experts argue that, even without government intervention, the price of Ozempic in the US will decrease in the coming months as other companies produce drugs that mimic the original’s effects.

A digital illustration of plummeting stock market prices

Source: Freepik

When this happens, the natural  economy will force Novo Nordisk to lower its prices to stay competitive. So, whether because of Sanders’ fight or simple supply and demand, Ozempic will likely be far more affordable in 2025.