Feb 22, 2024

GLP-1 Weight-Loss Leaders “Blow Past” Wall Street Projections in Q4 2023, Hike Prices on at Least 20 Brand Name Products in First Weeks of 2024

Big Pharma giants Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk recently reported earnings that blew past Wall Street estimates for the fourth quarter of 2023. Both brand name companies have become leaders in what “some Wall Street analysts predict will be the best-selling class of drugs of all time,” glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists. Both manufacturers have continued to repeatedly hike prices on products in their portfolio to juice their rising profits – with no slowdown in sight.

Eli Lilly:

  • Eli Lilly smashed Wall Street estimates for Q4, bringing in $9.35 billion in revenue, up 28 percent year-over-year.
  • The better-than-expected earnings were buoyed by the strong launch of the company’s recently approved weight loss drug,
  • Zepbound, which regulators predict could become the “biggest drug of all time,” brought in $175.8 million in Q4.
  • Several of Eli Lilly’s blockbuster prescription drugs performed strongly, including diabetes drugs Mounjaro and Trulicity as well as insulin product Humalog.
  • Sales of Mounjaro reached $2.21 billion in the quarter, up from a mere $279 million in Q4 2023.
  • Trulicity brought in $1.67 billion and Humalog another $366.6 million in Q4 2023.

Novo Nordisk:

  • Novo Nordisk reported fourth-quarter sales of $9.58 billion, up more than 39 percent.
  • The Big Pharma giant recorded its highest annual profit in decades with skyrocketing sales of diabetes and obesity drugs Ozempic and Wegovy.
  • Ozempic sales jumped nearly 79 percent year over year to $4.37 billion while Wegovy sales almost quadrupled in Q4, bringing in $1.4 billion.
  • Novo Nordisk expects sales to potentially increase more than 25 percent this year as the drug maker topped a $500 billion valuation following the Q4 earnings report.
  • Novo Nordisk Chief Financial Officer, Karsten Knudsen said in response to obesity division sales increasing more then 150 percent, “I could smile a long time over results like this.”

The expectation-besting profits come after the brand name drug makers have leveled significant price hikes in recent years – and as both companies increasingly seem like they are applying the pharmaceutical industry’s price-gouging playbook honed on diabetes drugs to these new weight loss medications.

Eli Lilly:

  • Eli Lilly hiked prices on 10 prescription drugs thus far in 2024, including oncology drug Verzenio by six percent as well as best-selling diabetes drugs Trulicity and Mounjaro by five percent and 4.5 percent, respectively.
  • Eli Lilly started 2023 by raising prices on 16 prescription drugs, including blockbuster diabetes drugs Trulicity and Mounjaro, both by five percent. Eli Lilly also hiked the price of its best-selling oncology drug Verzenio by 5 percent.
  • Last summer, Eli Lilly hiked the price of its blockbuster cancer drug, Cyramza, by two percent.
  • The company began 2022 with more than a dozen price hikes, including another five percent increase on Trulicity.
  • In the summer of 2022, Eli Lilly increased the price of its COVID-19 antibody treatment by an estimated 14 percent as coverage shifted to the commercial market from the U.S. government.

Novo Nordisk:

  • Novo Nordisk has hiked prices on 10 prescription drugs thus far in 2024, including a 3.5 percent increase on blockbuster weight loss drug Ozempic.
  • In 2023, Novo Nordisk hiked prices on 11 prescriptions drugs, including a 4.9 percent increase on their best-selling GLP-1 drug Ozempic.
  • In 2022, Novo Nordisk increased prices on 10 prescriptions drugs, including a 4.8 percent increase on weight loss and diabetes drug Ozempic.

Eli Lilly & Novo Nordisk Bring Insulin Price-Gouging Playbook to New Weight Loss Meds

One of the biggest stories in the drug pricing recently has been a new “gold rush” for Big Pharma around weight loss drugs. Several Big Pharma companies have launched new products in this space or received approval to prescribe older products for this new category. It’s increasingly becoming clear, however, that Big Pharma is sizing up this new market for a business-as-usual approach to price-gouging: including targeting the U.S. for the highest prices in the world and setting egregious prices amid widespread interest and demand.

This highly anticipated category of weight loss drugs, GLP-1s, originally grew out of a category of medicines originally designed for treating diabetes. So it’s no surprise that the pharmaceutical industry appears to be bringing the same price-gouging playbook previously used on products like insulin, to this new category of medications. Two of the largest players leading the pack in terms of the development of new weight loss medications have also been two of the worst offenders when it came to insulin: Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk.

Read more on how Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk are applying the pharmaceutical industry’s price-gouging and patent-building playbooks honed on diabetes drugs to these new GLP-1 drugs HERE.

Read more about how Big Pharma charges the highest prices in the world for these GLP-1 drugs in the U.S. HERE.

Read more on Johnson & Johnson’s fourth quarter earnings HERE.

Read more on Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline’s fourth quarter earnings HERE.

Read more on Merck, Bristol Myers Squibb and AbbVie’s fourth quarter earnings HERE.

And learn more about solutions to lower prescription drug prices and hold Big Pharma accountable HERE.