FDA Approves Zepbound, the Latest Weight-Loss Drug: The Kiplinger Letter

Eli Lily’s Zepbound will undercut its rivals’ pricing but still costs over $1,000 a month.

To help you understand what is going on with the FDA approval of Zepbound, Eli Lily’s new weight-loss drug and in the pharmaceutical sector as a whole, our highly experienced Kiplinger Letter team will keep you abreast of the latest developments and forecasts (Get a free issue of The Kiplinger Letter or subscribe). You'll get all the latest news first by subscribing, but we will publish many (but not all) of the forecasts a few days afterward online. Here’s the latest…

There’s starting to be a bit of price relief for high-cost weight-loss drugs. Eli Lilly’s newly approved weight-loss drug will be a little cheaper than Novo Nordisk’s Wegovy, which costs just over $1,790 per injection. Lilly’s drug, which will be marketed as Zepbound, recently got federal approval for weight loss, and its list price is about 20% less than Wegovy. Look for future rounds of discounting. 

The weekly injectable drugs have list prices of about $1,000 per month, but rebates are regularly used. Even lower prices and better treatment are on tap, but that will take longer. New drugs need to come to market, including pills, which are cheaper to manufacture.

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“Obesity is a serious condition that can be associated with some of the leading causes of death such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes,” said John Sharretts, director of the FDA’s Division of Diabetes, Lipid Disorders and Obesity (DDLO), in a statement. “In light of increasing rates of both obesity and overweight in the United States, today’s approval addresses an unmet medical need.”

Policymakers will also soon have to confront the federal cost. Recent studies show that the drugs not only reduce weight but improve heart health, upping the odds of Medicare and Medicaid coverage, which means the future cost for Uncle Sam will be exorbitant.

This forecast first appeared in The Kiplinger Letter, which has been running since 1923 and is a collection of concise weekly forecasts on business and economic trends, as well as what to expect from Washington, to help you understand what’s coming up to make the most of your investments and your money. Subscribe to The Kiplinger Letter.

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John Miley
Senior Associate Editor, The Kiplinger Letter

John Miley is a Senior Associate Editor at The Kiplinger Letter. He mainly covers technology, telecom and education, but will jump on other important business topics as needed. In his role, he provides timely forecasts about emerging technologies, business trends and government regulations. He also edits stories for the weekly publication and has written and edited e-mail newsletters.

He joined Kiplinger in August 2010 as a reporter for Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine, where he wrote stories, fact-checked articles and researched investing data. After two years at the magazine, he moved to the Letter, where he has been for the last decade. He holds a BA from Bates College and a master’s degree in magazine journalism from Northwestern University, where he specialized in business reporting. An avid runner and a former decathlete, he has written about fitness and competed in triathlons.