“It certainly adds insult to injury,” said Ardis Watkins, executive director of the State Employees Association of North Carolina, a group that lobbies on behalf of state health plan members. “Our economic climate that has been made so attractive to businesses to locate here is being used to manufacture a drug that is wildly marked up.”
Ms. Schneider said Novo Nordisk employs more than 2,500 North Carolinians and has poured more than $5 billion in capital spending into the state.
State health plan staff have been closely monitoring the growth in Wegovy spending. About a year ago, it became the most costly medication for the health plan, outpacing the plan’s longstanding top expense, the blockbuster anti-inflammatory drug Humira.
“Wegovy all of a sudden was just running loose,” said Sonya Dunn, a manager for the health plan who routinely reviews reports showing the plan’s prescription drug spending hitting new highs.
The North Carolina State Health Plan has been more lax than other employers and insurance programs in how it covered the obesity drugs. Until recently, patients could get coverage without supplying documentation that they had the body mass index or certain medical conditions that the Food and Drug Administration has approved for eligibility for the medications.