Full data from a clinical trial of Novo Nordisk’s Wegovy have rekindled debate over how the weight loss drug will affect demand for medical devices and procedures.
Findings from the SELECT study, presented at a major heart meeting over the weekend, showed a 20% risk reduction on a composite measure of heart attack, stroke or cardiovascular death, compared to a placebo, in overweight and obese patients with heart disease. But on a narrower measure of cardiovascular death alone the data didn’t show a conclusive benefit.
Overall, Novo’s results confirm a cardiovascular benefit for patients. And the more mixed outcomes on secondary endpoints do not alter the outlook for heart device makers such as Boston Scientific, Medtronic and Edwards Lifesciences, Mizuho analyst Anthony Petrone wrote Monday in a client note.
“At first blush, we see the final SELECT data as neutral for cardiovascular [companies],” he wrote.
Medical device company stocks have come under pressure since SELECT’s success was announced in August. Investors have questioned whether Wegovy and other GLP-1 agonists could reduce the need for medical devices to treat diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
“Taken collectively, the data did not provide substantially more [cardiovascular]-benefit learnings versus the August 8th headline,” Petrone said.
Shares in Boston Scientific, Medtronic and Edwards were all up this week.
Novo’s study also showed Wegovy lowered pre-diabetic participants’ risk of developing an elevated HbA1c level by about 73%, according to Mizuho’s note, with implications for manufacturers of insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors, or CGMs.
“With SELECT now opening the potential for GLP-1s to be used as preventative measures in vulnerable populations, we expect this headwind to now be debated over the coming weeks/months for the outlooks of CGMs and insulin delivery solutions,” Petrone wrote.
CGM makers Abbott and Dexcom contend that people who take GLP-1 medicines show greater use of their glucose monitors, suggesting the drugs and devices could be complementary.
RBC Capital Markets analyst Shagun Singh noted how Dexcom is seeing higher CGM penetration and better outcomes after GLP-1 initiation in people with Type 2 diabetes.
“Overall, we believe the SELECT data will benefit metabolic health, and expect CGM adoption to continue to increase in diabetes patients,” Singh wrote in a research note.
Demand for the new weight loss drugs has contributed to a slowdown in bariatric procedure growth, according to robotic surgery leader Intuitive Surgical, though company executives expect many of those patients eventually will consider surgery due to the drugs’ side effects and cost.
“Surgery headwinds could worsen in the near term as more patients delay procedures to try weight loss drugs,” William Blair analyst Brandon Vazquez wrote in a note to clients Monday. But the firm’s survey of bariatric surgeons showed 70% of the doctors believe delayed cases will be rescheduled, Vazquez said.