- Novo Nordisk aims to more than triple sales of its obesity drugs by 2025, setting out expectations for fast market growth from its new weight loss medicine Wegovy despite manufacturing problems that have slowed its launch to date.
- Speaking to investors at a capital markets day Thursday, the Denmark-based drugmaker said it aims to increase obesity drug sales to more than 25 billion Danish kroner, or about $3.7 billion. In 2021, Novo earned about $1.2 billion from sales of Wegovy and its earlier weight loss treatment Saxenda.
- Approved in the U.S. last June, Wegovy is an injectable drug consisting of the same active ingredient, semaglutide, that's contained in Novo's diabetes treatments Ozempic and Rybelsus. Clinical testing showed trial participants given Wegovy lost, on average, 12% of their baseline body weight compared to those who received placebo.
Novo's biggest problem launching Wegovy has been making enough of it.
Strong initial demand outstripped Novo's manufacturing capacity, a problem the drugmaker thought it had solved by revising its plans and ramping up production. But it was set back further in December, when a Food and Drug Administration inspection of a supplier's facility led that contractor, later confirmed to be Catalent, to temporarily halt deliveries and manufacturing while it resolved the FDA's complaints.
The supply crunch forced Novo to put sales and marketing for Wegovy on hold to ensure treatment is available for current patients, a decision executives said last month is likely to result in few new prescription starts in early 2022.
But the company is confident it can resolve the hold-up by the second half of the year, detailing plans on Thursday to reallocate internal production to prioritize Wegovy and onboard a new contract manufacturer. Catalent, meanwhile, is expected to restart manufacturing, with test production set to begin in the coming weeks.
Once those roadblocks are clear, Novo expects Wegovy sales will quickly rise, highlighting how the number of doctors prescribing the drug now exceeds those prescribing its older Saxenda.
Behind Wegovy, Novo is also developing other treatments that it hopes can match the weight loss typically achieved by bariatric surgery, a level that Wegovy and Saxenda don't reach.
Correction: A previous version of this story referred to Wegovy as an oral drug.