Lars Fruergaard Jorgensen, chief executive of Novo Nordisk.
Carsten Snejbjerg/Bloomberg via Getty Images
If you’re a Novo Nordisk A/S employee with obesity, you will have access to a unique company perk: Free Wegovy.
Novo offers to reimburse staff who have been prescribed the expensive weight-loss drug by a doctor in its homeland Denmark, the company said by email. The perk, which is still taxable, is also available to employees diagnosed with conditions that other Novo drugs treat, such as diabetes and hemophilia.
The pharmaceutical giant is struggling to meet surging demand for Wegovy in its key US market where it’s currently restricting the sale of starter doses to safeguard supplies for patients already on the drug. Denmark, where Novo employs about 21,000 people, is one of the few European markets where the drugmaker so far has introduced the obesity drug.
Novo doesn’t have a special supply from which it distributes medicines to its staff, and employees are taxed on the benefit, the company said in an emailed statement.
Employees must of course meet with the general practitioner, be diagnosed and get a prescription, like any other Danish citizen,” Novo said. “These pharmaceutical benefit practices also exist in other global organizations.”
Danish doctors have reported they face immense Wegovy demand from patients and an additional workload as a result. Almost 100,000 Danes have used the drug since it was launched in December, according to data from the Danish Health Authority. It takes a BMI of at least 30, which is considered obese, to get a prescription for Wegovy in Denmark, or 27 for people suffering from weight-related health problems.
While Novo for a long time has offered to reimburse employees who need to use the medicines it has developed, the policy has drawn renewed attention due to Wegovy’s popularity and expense. In Denmark, the purchase cost amounts to almost 30,000 kroner ($4,400) a year.
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