Novo Nordisk CEO Agrees to Testify at Senate Hearing After Sanders’ Subpoena Threat

Fremont, CA, USA - Mar 3, 2020: Danish multinational pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk A/S office building in Fremont, California, United States.

Fremont, CA, USA - Mar 3, 2020: Danish multinational pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk A/S office building in Fremont, California, United States.

hapabapa/Getty Images

Novo Nordisk CEO Lars Jørgensen has agreed to appear before the Senate health committee in a hearing on the prices of its blockbuster drugs Ozempic and Wegovy.

Pictured: Novo Nordisk’s office in Fremont, California/iStock, hapabapa

Novo Nordisk CEO Lars Jørgensen has agreed to testify before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee regarding the prices of the pharma’s top-selling semaglutide brands Ozempic and Wegovy, according to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

Jørgensen will appear before the committee in a hearing dedicated to what Sanders calls the “outrageously high prices” of Ozempic and Wegovy in the U.S. The hearing is scheduled for early September 2024, though no exact date has been given yet.

Sanders, who is chair of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, in a statement on Friday said that he “enjoyed” his conversation with Jørgensen, thanking him for “agreeing to voluntarily testify” at the hearing.

Last week, Sanders threatened to subpoena Novo Nordisk President Doug Langa to provide testimony about his company’s pricing for Ozempic and Wegovy. The vote on the subpoena, which was initially scheduled for June 18, has now been cancelled. “The scheduled subpoena vote is no longer necessary,” Sanders said on Friday.

Sanders launched the probe of Ozempic and Wegovy in April 2024, blasting the disparity in the prices of these drugs in the U.S. versus other developed countries. Ozempic, costs upwards of $900 per month in the U.S., while the treatment can be bought for $155 in Canada and $59 in Germany, according to Sanders.

Americans also pay more than $1,300 per month for Ozempic, while Novo sells the same product for $140 in Germany and $92 in the United Kingdom, Sanders contends.

“As important as these drugs are, they will not do any good for the millions of patients who cannot afford them,” Sanders said at the time, adding that their bloated price tags “have the potential to bankrupt Medicare, Medicaid and our entire health care system.”

The committee’s investigation also cited a March 2024 study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which found that injectable semaglutide products can be profitably manufactured at less than $5 per month.

Sanders has launched an aggressive campaign to lower prescription drug prices in the U.S. In March 2023, the senator called on Sanofi and Lilly to follow Lilly’s example and lower insulin prices. The companies complied soon after.

In January 2024, Sanders also threatened to subpoena the CEOs of Merck and Johnson & Johnson, forcing them to participate in the committee’s broader investigation on drug prices in the U.S. The execs eventually agreed to testify at a February 2024 hearing, where they insisted that their prices reflect the costs of bringing products to market. In their respective testimony, the pharma companies pointed to pharmacy benefit managers as the main reason for inflated drug prices in the U.S.

Tristan Manalac is an independent science writer based in Metro Manila, Philippines. Reach out to him on LinkedIn or email him at tristan@tristanmanalac.com or tristan.manalac@biospace.com.

Tristan is an independent science writer based in Metro Manila, with more than eight years of experience writing about medicine, biotech and science. He can be reached at tristan.manalac@biospace.com, tristan@tristanmanalac.com or on LinkedIn.
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