US Senate panel to weigh Novo Nordisk subpoena over Ozempic, Wegovy prices

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: Boxes of Ozempic and Wegovy made by Novo Nordisk are seen at a pharmacy in London

By Ahmed Aboulenein and Michael Erman

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Senate health panel said on Tuesday it would vote this month on whether to subpoena Novo Nordisk to answer questions about U.S. prices for weight loss drugs Ozempic and Wegovy, which are far higher than those in other countries.

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, which is investigating the drugs' costs, said in a statement that at its June 18 meeting it will weigh a subpoena requiring Novo Nordisk Inc President Doug Langa to testify at a July 10 hearing.

"The HELP Committee has reached out time and time again to Novo Nordisk to request their voluntary attendance at a hearing to discuss why they are charging Americans up to 10 or 15 times more for the exact same product sold in other countries," said Senator Bernie Sanders, who chairs the committee.

"Unfortunately, despite all of our efforts, they have repeatedly denied our requests. We look forward to their presence at a hearing on July 10th," he said in the statement.

Novo Nordisk said it had cooperated with the committee on multiple occasions and that global CEO Lars Fruergaard Jorgenson was willing to testify.

Langa, whom the committee is voting on whether or not to subpoena, is Novo's head of North America operations and president of Novo Nordisk Inc, the company's U.S. subsidiary.

"Based on our continued cooperation, we feel that issuing a subpoena is unnecessary," the company said in a statement.

In April, Sanders sent a letter to Langa seeking more information on U.S. prices for the two drugs.

Novo responded with a May letter blaming the U.S. health system for the high prices. It said it retains about 60% of the list price for the drugs after rebates and fees paid to middlemen.

A 2 milligram package of Ozempic carries a list price of $935.77 in the U.S., while Wegovy has a list price of $1,349.02 per package, according to the drugmaker's website.

(Reporting by Ahmed Aboulenein in Washington and Michael Erman in New York, additional reporting by Susan Heavey, editing by David Ljunggren and David Gregorio)