Recently retired Congressman Ron Kind (D-Wis.), who sponsored the bill to allow coverage, joined Arnold & Porter in February. However, ethics rules prevent him from lobbying his former colleagues in Congress for a year.
Lobbyists working on the contract include Sonja Nesbit, who served as a senior HHS official during the Obama administration, and longtime GOP health care lobbyist Eugenia Pierson.
Novo Nordisk spent a total of $4.6 million lobbying the federal government last year and $1.3 million in the first three months of 2023.
Although both drugs contain the active ingredient semaglutide, Ozempic is only approved as a treatment for diabetes, although it is prescribed off-label as an anti-obesity drug. Wegovy is FDA approved for weight loss.
Medicare Part D and most commercial insurers only cover Ozempic for the treatment of diabetes. Without coverage, the drugs can cost patients about $16,000 a year.
A study cited by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that coverage of weight-loss drugs like Wegovy could lead to nearly $27 billion in additional Medicare Part D spending if 41 percent of Americans over age 60 considered obese decide to take the drug.
Those estimates, however, don’t include any savings Medicare could realize if obesity is reduced, which a USC Schaeffer Center article found earlier this year could be significant.
It’s the second lobbying record so far this year to push for Medicare coverage of weight-loss drugs. In January, Eli Lilly — which makes the diabetes drug Mounjaro, also prescribed off-label for weight loss — hired Todd Strategy Group to work on the issue.