Novo Nordisk, the Danish pharmaceutical company, has launched its popular weight-loss drug Wegovy in Germany, marking its entry into the country’s major European market. The drug, which has already been available in the US, has shown promising results in helping patients reduce their body weight by around 15% when combined with exercise and lifestyle changes. While it has been on sale in smaller markets like Norway and Denmark in Europe, Germany represents a significant milestone for Novo Nordisk.
According to a spokesperson for Novo, the first patients in Germany have already redeemed their prescriptions, in line with the company’s previously announced plans to launch the drug in the country at the end of July. The introduction of Wegovy has generated significant anticipation among doctors and patients in Germany, who expect high demand for the weekly injections. Many patients are willing to bear the cost, which starts at €170 per month and can rise to over €300 as the dosage increases.
However, public health insurance plans, which cover approximately 90% of Germans, will not cover the cost of weight-loss drugs due to a longstanding law prohibiting their coverage. Private health insurance plans, which cover the remaining 10% of Germans, may vary in their coverage policies. Allianz, one of the major providers, has stated that it will pay for weight-loss treatments if a physician diagnoses a medical need. On the other hand, Debeka has excluded weight-loss treatments from its plans.
The arrival of Wegovy in Germany has been welcomed by patient advocates and physicians alike. Germany has an obesity rate of 18.5% among adults, which is higher than the European Union average of 16%. The Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s state public health agency, has highlighted the significant burden that diseases related to excess body weight place on the country’s healthcare and social security systems.
Novo Nordisk is increasing its production capacity to meet the soaring demand for Wegovy in the US, where the drug is priced as high as $1,350 (€1,225) per month. The company has stated that it will closely monitor prescriptions in Germany to ensure access for individuals with obesity, but it cannot rule out potential supply delays. In order to avoid impacting supplies in the US, Wegovy in Germany will be administered using a different injection pen than the one used in the US, but the same as the one used in Norway and Denmark.
The introduction of Wegovy in Germany is expected to spark debate in a country where the healthcare system has often treated obesity as a lifestyle choice rather than a chronic disease. Many Germans seeking weight loss have already used Ozempic, a diabetes drug also manufactured by Novo Nordisk, which is a lower-dose version of the same active ingredient as Wegovy. Physicians have expressed concerns that the supply of Wegovy may be strained by non-obese individuals seeking “vanity” prescriptions. In response to these concerns, Novo Nordisk issued a statement in mid-July urging physicians to “prescribe responsibly”.