State employees no longer covered for WeGovy, weight-loss medicines after board vote

State employees no longer covered for WeGovy, weight-loss medicines after board vote

RALEIGH, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — North Carolina state employees will soon have to pay out of pocket for WeGovy and other similar weight-loss drugs.

“There’s no reason that the state health plan North Carolina should be one of the largest purchasers of this drug in North America” said Dale Folwell, State Treasurer and chair of the Health Care Plan Board of Trustees.

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In a 4-3 vote, the state board made the move to save $100 million dollars in 2024. Folwell says officials tried to negotiate with the drug maker NovoNordisk to reduce the cost. The state had already voted to stop covering new prescriptions back on Jan. 1. 

“We tried to put in place, [maybe change the requirements to] a body mass index that’s higher than 27 and our pharmacy benefit manager [CVS] said, ‘We have no interest, you’d lose your rebates,’ we have put forth four different solutions to try to resolve this problem leading up to this vote,” Folwell said.

N.C. Treasurer Dale Folwell.
N.C. Treasurer Dale Folwell.

The state released the top 25 prescribers of GLP-1 medications in North Carolina. The list includes several providers across the Charlotte region; some of the prescribers are not medical offices. Experts say obese people are more likely to get diabetes or heart disease, which could cost the state health plan more money in the long run.

“People in this state have some of the poorest quality health care at the highest cost in the United States, and with the dramatic increase in pharmaceutical cost, we’re doing everything we can to continue to freeze the family premiums,” Folwell said.

CVS/Caremark is the state plan’s pharmacy benefits manager, a spokesman sent a statement about the cost of the drug saying in part:

Drug manufacturers need to stop dragging their feet and agree to offer their medicines at a fair price to North Carolina’s public servants. Let me be clear: The drug manufacturers can choose to lower the cost of these medicines today and offer relief to the State Health Plan.

CVS/Caremark

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Folwell says his office will continue to search for solutions to help cover the cost of weight-loss drugs.

“Our responsibility is to do the most good for the most number of people and all of your viewers who are who are hearing this, maybe for the first time, need to understand that we’re doing everything we can to try to actually solve this problem,” he said.

The coverage ends on April 1. Coverage will continue for the diabetes drug Ozempic.

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