Health Law Highlights

Ozempic, Wegovy, and the New Compliance Risks for Providers

From Dentons, by Susan Freed:

Increase in Prescription of Diabetes and Obesity Drugs: There has been a significant rise in the popularity of diabetes and obesity drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy, with U.S healthcare providers writing over 9 million prescriptions in the last three months of 2022. This is a 300% increase from 2020, with almost half of the users potentially taking these medications for weight loss.

Supply and Cost Challenges: The demand for these medications has outpaced supply, making them increasingly difficult to access, especially for new patients. The high costs, ranging from $900 to $1300 per month, also limit patient access, making health insurance coverage crucial.

Compliance Risks for Providers: The popularity of these drugs, coupled with access issues, presents new compliance risks for providers. There’s a need for increased education, monitoring, and vigilance, especially in documenting medical necessity and other criteria required by insurers.

Risk Mitigation Strategies: Compliance officers should consider providing increased education to practitioners about these medications and insurance coverage requirements, implementing processes to track insurer coverage criteria, reviewing and responding to insurer requests for documentation, and monitoring prescribing habits of practitioners. If outliers are identified, a more in-depth review should be coordinated.

Drug Diversion and Theft Risks: As access to these medications becomes more difficult, the risk of drug diversion and theft increases. Healthcare providers should ensure proper safeguarding measures are in place, especially for drug samples and drug sample closets.