In a significant leap forward in the fight against obesity, Eli Lilly’s revolutionary obesity treatment, Zepbound, has officially become available in U.S. pharmacies. The pharmaceutical giant announced on Tuesday that the drug, recently granted approval, is priced at $550 per month. This cost, which represents half the list price, aims to provide an accessible option for customers whose health insurance does not cover the treatment.
The arrival of Zepbound onto the market is timely, given the alarming rise in obesity rates worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies obesity as a global epidemic, with over 1.9 billion adults categorized as overweight and 650 million as obese. In the United States alone, nearly 40% of the population is affected by obesity, a condition linked to a myriad of health issues, including heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.
Eli Lilly’s strategic move to make Zepbound more affordable is a response to the growing demand for effective weight-loss solutions. The weight-loss drug market is currently experiencing rapid expansion, with projections estimating its value to reach about $100 billion by the end of the decade. Cigna, a major drug benefits company, has already taken a proactive step by adding Zepbound to its national list of preferred medicines, potentially streamlining the insurance coverage and reimbursement processes.
A crucial player in the accessibility of medications is the pharmacy benefit manager, responsible for creating formularies of covered drugs. The inclusion of Zepbound in these formularies is expected to enhance accessibility, ensuring that those in need have a smoother path to obtaining this groundbreaking treatment.
To address concerns about affordability, Eli Lilly has introduced a commercial savings card program. Under this initiative, Zepbound could be accessible for as little as $25 for patients whose insurance covers the drug. This pricing strategy aims to make Zepbound a more viable option for a wider demographic, ensuring that individuals grappling with obesity can access the treatment they need.
Zepbound’s approval in November marked a pivotal moment in the battle against obesity, positioning it as a formidable competitor to Novo Nordisk’s Wegovy. The drug boasts a list price of $1,059.87 per month, making it a more cost-effective alternative compared to Novo Nordisk’s popular weight-loss medication, priced at $1,349 per package.
Tirzepatide, a key component of Zepbound, has been available as Mounjaro for treating type 2 diabetes since 2022. In response to supply constraints for Wegovy, Lilly’s drug had been increasingly used “off-label” for weight loss, showcasing the versatility and potential impact of this innovative treatment.
Eli Lilly’s strategic moves and the anticipation surrounding the introduction of Zepbound have significantly impacted the company’s performance, with its shares surging by an impressive 60% this year. This surge has propelled Eli Lilly to become the most valuable healthcare company globally, underscoring the immense potential and market demand for effective obesity treatments.
The availability of Zepbound in U.S. pharmacies is not just a pharmaceutical milestone but also a ray of hope for individuals grappling with obesity. As the pharmaceutical industry continues to innovate, offering more accessible and affordable solutions, the battle against obesity takes a crucial step forward with the introduction of Zepbound, potentially changing the landscape of obesity treatment and improving the lives of millions affected by this global health crisis.