The Ozempic Dilemma: What makes a dual-brand approach viable?

February 5, 2024
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This article was originally published in Life Science Leader.

Recently, there has been heightened focus on dual brand approaches in which the same molecule is approved for multiple indications and packaged, priced, and distributed under different brand names. Public interest has centered on Novo Nordisk’s semaglutide, with its dual brands Ozempic1 (type 2 diabetes) and Wegovy2 (weight loss), both once-weekly self-administered subcutaneous injections (a third brand of semaglutide, Rybelsus, is an oral formulation administered once daily). Ozempic and Wegovy are available with different dosage strengths (Ozempic in three strengths, Wegovy in five) and at different prices per pen and per unit. Ozempic’s monthly list package price is approximately $969 compared with Wegovy’s approximate $1,349.3 Given relatively limited differences in dosage strengths and labeled dosing for the two brands, the price difference has led to many patients requesting, and providers prescribing, Ozempic for weight loss. In addition, many payers have applied utilization management through prior authorization criteria to limit Ozempic use to patients with type 2 diabetes, as they typically would not reimburse for weight loss medications. Dual branding of semaglutide, with high-profile celebrity testimonials, has shone a light on dual brand benefits and complications as patients attempt to minimize out-of-pocket costs. Recently, Eli Lilly received approval for its dual-brand medication Zepbound (tirzepatide injection), a once-weekly therapy for weight loss, following its 2022 approval as Mounjaro for treating type 2 diabetes.

The follow-on indications associated with a second or dual brand often have significant differences in dosing, dosing frequency, formulation, route of administration, site of administration or other factors that may provide improved efficacy, safety, convenience, or other benefits. Similarly, dual brands often address different levels of disease burden and unmet needs associated with different patient conditions or prevalence.

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