Senate committee to vote on subpoena for Novo Nordisk executive

June 11, 2024

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, announced Tuesday he will hold a vote on issuing a subpoena for a top Novo Nordisk executive to testify on the high cost of Ozempic and Wegovy in the U.S.

The vote to subpoena Doug Langa, executive vice president of North America Operations for the multinational firm, will be held on June 18, according to Sanders. The senator said in his announcement Tuesday that “we look forward to their presence at a hearing on July 10th.”

Sanders, who caucuses with Democrats, turned his eye to a class of medications used for treating diabetes and obesity called GLP-1 agonists earlier this year after carrying out pressure campaigns that seemed to influence industry moves to lower the costs of insulin and asthma medications.

He launched an investigation in April into the “outrageously high prices” of Novo Nordisk’s semaglutide products Ozempic and Wegovy. The main issue at hand is Sanders’s questions over why Novo Nordisk charges patients in the U.S. “up to 10 to 15 times more” for those products than their counterparts in other western countries like Canada and Germany.

“The American people – Democrats, Republicans, and Independents – are sick and tired of paying, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. It is not acceptable to me or the American people that we continue to be ripped off by giant pharmaceutical companies who make huge profits every year while charging us outrageous prices,” said Sanders.

The HELP chair claimed that Novo Nordisk has “repeatedly denied” requests by the committee to attend a hearing. The company pushed back at these accusations.

“Every time the Chairman has made a request to Novo Nordisk we have responded and cooperated,” a Novo Nordisk spokesperson said in a statement.

“On multiple occasions, we have communicated our CEO’S willingness to testify and offered several dates for a hearing,” they added. “Based on our continued cooperation, we feel that issuing a subpoena is unnecessary. We are committed to a hearing that aligns with the Chairman’s established committee practices and to developing meaningful solutions to enhance patient access and affordability.”