COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – Novo Nordisk, a Danish pharmaceutical company, announced on Thursday that it plans to provide “significantly” more doses of the weight-loss injection Wegovy in the United States next year. However, the company cautioned that shortages of the drug would persist in the short to medium term.
Despite facing supply constraints, Novo Nordisk, which overtook LVMH as Europe’s most valuable listed company this year, reported record operating profit and sales for the third quarter, highlighting the remarkable success of Wegovy so far.
Novo’s CFO Karsten Munk Knudsen stated in an interview, “Specifically in the US market, we’ll be supplying significantly more in 2024 compared to what we are in 2023.”
The company has struggled to meet the surging demand for the appetite-suppressing anti-obesity drug and has limited the number of US patients who can begin treatment since May.
Knudsen added, “Given the unmet need in society for safe and efficacious obesity treatments, we will not be able to supply to the full global market for a number of years.”
Despite investors and analysts hoping for clarity on when the supply limits for Wegovy starter doses in the US would be lifted, Novo Nordisk’s shares were trading 1.6% higher at 1038 GMT.
Novo Nordisk’s CEO Lars Fruergaard Jorgensen did not provide an end date for the supply limitations and declined to disclose manufacturing details during a media call.
The company still intends to contract a third manufacturer this year to assist in producing Wegovy.
In its quarterly earnings statement, Novo Nordisk revealed that it had submitted applications to US and European Union authorities in September and October to have Wegovy approved for reducing the risk of cardiovascular events. This followed the results of a large study released in August that demonstrated Wegovy’s clear cardiovascular benefits.
Wegovy sales reached 9.6 billion Danish crowns ($1.36 billion) between July and September, marking a 28% increase from the previous quarter and an eight-fold increase from the same period last year.
Investors and analysts have been seeking clarity on when the supply issue would be resolved, especially since rival Eli Lilly expects US approval of its Mounjaro weight-loss drug later this year.
Novo Nordisk also reported a 50% year-on-year growth in US prescription volumes for GLP-1 class drugs, which include its popular weight loss and diabetes medications, in the quarter compared to the previous year. Sales grew 29% year-on-year to 58.7 billion Danish crowns, while operating profit (EBIT) rose by 33% to 26.9 billion, aligning with preliminary numbers released last month.