December 5, 2023 – 3:36 PM UTC
(Reuters) – Eli Lilly (LLY.N) said on Tuesday its recently approved obesity treatment Zepbound is now available in U.S. pharmacies and could cost $550 a month for customers whose health insurance does not cover the drug, or half the list price.
Zepbound is the latest entrant to the fast-growing market for weight-loss drugs, which is expected to grow to about $100 billion by the end of the decade.
Wall Street analysts expect sales of Zepbound to reach about $2 billion in 2024. Novo Nordisk’s powerful obesity drug Wegovy is expected to make $7.3 billion in sales next year, according to Barclays analyst Emily Field.
Both medicines are GLP-1 agonists, a class originally designed to treat type 2 diabetes.
Zepbound was added to the U.S. list of preferred medicines by at least one major drug benefits company, Cigna (CI.N).
Pharmacy benefit managers create lists, or formularies, of medications covered by insurance and reimburse pharmacies for patients’ prescriptions.
Lilly said its commercial savings card program was now available at pharmacy chains. Under the program, Zepbound could cost as little as $25 for patients whose insurance covers the drug, and $550 for those whose insurance does not.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Zepbound in November and Lilly said then it would launch after Thanksgiving.
Zepbound has a list price of $1,059.87 a month compared with a list of $1,349 per-package for Novo’s wildly popular Wegovy.
Lilly’s obesity drug has the same active ingredient, tirzepatide, as its previously approved diabetes drug Mounjaro, which has been used off-label for weight loss since its 2022 launch.
Eli Lilly’s shares have surged 60% this year in the run-up to the introduction of Zepbound and the drugmaker has claimed the tenth spot in the list of the world’s most valuable listed companies by market capitalization.
Reporting by Patrick Wingrove in New York and Manas Mishra and Khushi Mandowara in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Alexander Smith