May 3, 2023 – With the blockbuster type 2 diabetes drug Ozempic as popular as ever, people with diabetes and those wanting to use it for weight loss have been struggling to get their hands on it amid widespread shortages. There are over 4 million patients prescribed Ozempic worldwide, according to manufacturer Novo Nordisk’s website. Americans are being prescribed the drug at an extraordinary pace and make up reportedly around 10% of global prescriptions.
In addition to supply issues, the cost of Ozempic could also be a major hurdle. Some Americans have even tried flocking to Canada to try to get the drug at a discounted price. Canada sells Ozempic at a whopping $700 less than in the U.S, where it can cost more than $1,000 a month. The British Columbia Ministry of Health released a report saying thousands of U.S. residents have been filling their Ozempic prescriptions in its region. Out of all doses dispensed in British Columbia, 15% (15,798 doses) were sold to Americans in January and February.
So exactly how much cash will you have to shell for the so-called miracle drug? Keep reading for more information.
How Much Does Ozempic Cost?
A lot – to put it simply. A box or one pen, which could last you 30 days, can cost nearly $1,200 ($1,122.92), depending on your pharmacy, said Walter Oronsaye, PharmD, a Houston-based pharmacist who creates online content with information about prescription drugs, including drug shortages.
But if you’re one of the lucky ones whose insurance covers the drug, it can be much cheaper. In fact, the difference could be “hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars per month for two different patients each with the same prescription,” said Mark Decerbo, PharmD, a Las Vegas-based pharmacist.
Carol Sortore, 44, says she pays only $25 per month for her Ozempic prescription. She has pre-diabetes, and her insurance happens to cover the drug cost. Without insurance, her out-of-pocket cost would have been $1,200, said Sortore, an information security analyst based in Kansas City.
Things are different for Annie Brown, 33, whose pharmacy charges her $1,000 per month, since her insurance does not cover her prescription.
How to Get It For Less
Getting Ozempic at a discounted rate depends on a number of things. People with private insurance will ultimately get Ozempic at a cheaper price. This could be as low as $25 for a month for a 1-, 2-, or 3-month supply, Oronsaye said.
If paying out of pocket, you might be able to get it cheaper if your pharmacy takes discount cards, such as GoodRx. With this option, you could save a few hundred dollars. For example, you could pay around $850 to $900 with these cards vs. paying the full $1,200 out-of-pocket cost, Oronsaye said. With her GoodRx discount, Brown pays $500 for Ozempic vs. the $1,000 out-of-pocket cost.
If you have private insurance, you can text “BEGIN” to 21848 to receive an Ozempic Savings Card from the drugmaker, according to Decerbo. “You see [patients] pay as little as $25 per month copay for the medication, with a maximum savings of up to $150 for a 1-month prescription, $300 for a 2-month prescription, and $450 for a 3-month prescription up to a total of 2 years.”
How Do You Get a Prescription?
First, you should schedule an in-person appointment with your doctor to see if Ozempic might be right for you. But there are other options to get the drug shipped straight to your home – no in-person appointment necessary, Decerbo said.
“In the current post-COVID era, newer unique models to obtain prescriptions have evolved,” he said. “Many providers, including nurse practitioners, have now embraced telemedicine, where an interested patient can be evaluated online for appropriateness of Ozempic, with an electronic prescription for the medication, then sent to the patient’s pharmacy.”
Keep in mind: Your insurance company might refuse to cover the drug if you take Ozempic for weight loss purposes only, if you don’t have diabetes.