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Sales soar from Danish company behind weight-loss drug semaglutide | Pharmaceutical industry

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Pharmaceutical industry

Novo Nordisk says it is struggling to meet demand after becoming Europe’s most valuable company

The maker of the blockbuster weight-loss drug semaglutide has reported a surge in sales and profits as health systems around the world race to use it to combat obesity.

Sales of Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk’s diabetes and obesity drugs rose from 113 billion Danish crowns (£13.2 billion) in the nine months to the end of September 2022 to 154 billion crowns for the same period in 2023.

However, the company also warned it was struggling to meet demand, in its financial results released on Thursday.

Semaglutide’s effects on obesity, with many patients experiencing greater weight loss than with competing products, have made it a rare drug that has gained household recognition, with people ranging from billionaire Elon Musk to former Prime Minister Boris Johnson among those who said they took the drug, which is administered by injection.

The drug, marketed under the names Wegovy for obesity and Ozempic for diabetes, has also transformed Novo Nordisk’s prospects. Its shares listed in New York gained 2.9% in pre-market trading Thursday morning, surpassing the $100 mark, after the publication of its financial results.

The company’s pre-results market value stood at $334 billion, almost double its value at the start of 2022 and quadrupling its value at the start of 2019. This made it the most valuable company in Europe.

The company has launched sales in the United States, Denmark, Norway, Germany, Iceland and the United Kingdom. In September, the UK’s NHS began prescribing semaglutide through specialist weight management services, alongside a low-calorie diet and exercise.

Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen, Managing Director of Novo Nordisk, said: “We are very pleased with the sales growth in the first nine months of 2023, which reflects the fact that more people than ever are benefiting from our innovative diabetes treatments. and obesity.

Novo is struggling to meet demand and has said it will limit supplies of Wegovy to the United States. He said: “While Wegovy’s supply capacity is gradually expanded, the supply of lower doses to the United States will remain limited to ensure continuity of care. »

The company said there would be “continued periodic supply constraints” despite efforts to build more factories to make the drug. Novo is trying to stay ahead of rival Eli Lilly, whose diabetes product Mounjaro is also expected to be approved as a weight-loss drug.

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