The stock of Danish drugmaker Novo Nordisk (NYSE:NVO) has been on a tear, up over 400% in the past five years. It’s been so successful that its nearly $500 billion market cap exceeds Denmark’s entire gross domestic product (GDP), where the company is based.

Novo Nordisk owes much of its success to its blockbuster Ozempic drug, prescribed for patients with type 2 diabetes, and its related drug Wegovy, which is prescribed for weight loss. Ozempic brought in over $13 billion in revenue last year for the company, with 66% of that coming from the American market.

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Its profits stem in large part from extremely high margins on the drug, sparking debate on whether it’s excessive.

Melissa Barber, a public health economist at Yale University, commented that “the profit margin is insane” and that “there should be a conversation in policy about what is a fair price.”

Yale researchers found that Ozempic could be manufactured at a cost ranging from 89 cents to $4.73 for a month’s supply, even as the drug costs patients $968.52 per month in the United States without insurance.

A post on the technology subreddit titled “Pharmaceutical companies hiked the price of 775 drugs this year so far, including Ozempic and Mounjaro — exceeding the rate of inflation” drew much discussion, with one Reddit user commenting that “[drug companies] have been doing this forever, and the only person that went to jail was Martin Shkreli.”

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Martin Shkreli, former head of Turing Pharmaceuticals, drew bipartisan outrage when his company hiked the price of a life-saving drug by over 4,000%, with a federal court later permanently banning him from the pharmaceutical industry and forcing him to repay $64.6 million in profits.

Politicians have taken notice of the markup Novo Nordisk is charging.

“This outrageously high price has the potential to bankrupt Medicare, the American people and our entire health care system,” said U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont).

Whether the political heat on drugmakers gains traction in the 2024 election cycle remains to be seen, but it should be noted other countries are not paying the same markup.

“The same exact product can be purchased for just $155 a month in Canada and just $59 in Germany,” Sanders said.

Even for patients with insurance that are getting the drug for cheaper, someone is still paying for the costs, adding more bloat to an already expensive American healthcare system.

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This article Diabetes Drug Made For Under $5 Costs Americans $1,000, Drawing Comparisons To Martin Shrikeli While Juicing Profits for A Drug Giant originally appeared on

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