Novo Nordisk has reported continued success in diabetes and obesity drug sales, with an increased growth in sales expected in 2022. However, challenges remain in the supply of obesity drug Wegovy (semaglutide). Novo Nordisk reported, in December 2021, to be in shortage of the drug as the contract manufacturer that was in charge of syringe filling halted deliveries due to issues with good manufacturing practices. This disruption in the Wegovy supply chain will undoubtedly lead to a weakened Q4 2021 result for the therapy. Novo Nordisk has reported that it expects this, as fewer patients will have been expected to start the therapy. Key opinion leaders (KOLs) interviewed by GlobalData have reported their enthusiasm for Wegovy, particularly for those patients struggling with weight loss and developing pre-diabetes with a high risk for developing type 2 diabetes (T2D).
The contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) Catalent has emerged as responsible for the Wegovy supply issue, as the company had a penalty from the FDA following the inspection of its Belgian filling plant, in October 2021. This will likely affect sales in the short term for Wegovy, but the obesity medication is highly anticipated by both physicians and patients, with promising clinical results in late-stage trials, and therefore a strong performance in the market is expected in H2 2022. Novo Nordisk has sought to assure investors that it has strong internal capabilities and partnerships. It recently built a $2 billion active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) manufacturing site in North Carolina, as well as several more sites in Denmark. While the Wegovy supply issues are resolved, Novo Nordisk has reported that it intends to promote its previous obesity drug Saxenda (liraglutide) to maintain its market share in obesity.
Even with this issue regarding Wegovy, Novo Nordisk has continued to go from strength-to-strength, with strong clinical results regarding its long-term basal insulin icodec and semaglutide in several other applications. For 2020, it reported a significantly increased market cap, from $116.3 billion in December 2020, to $199.3 billion in 2021, likely driven by the results from semaglutide and icodec clinical trials and its continued dominance in the diabetes and wider metabolic disorders market. Novo Nordisk’s increased market cap and continued strength in the market is also driven by its existing glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) therapies Ozempic (semaglutide), and the oral semaglutide, Rybelsus. Both therapies have demonstrated cardiovascular and weight loss benefits in T2D patients, a clear need that physicians are keen to address, and these benefits have pushed these therapies to blockbuster status.
Furthermore, semaglutide is in Phase III trials for non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), and peripheral arterial disease (PAD), which is also likely to contribute to its dominance in these markets. GlobalData expects Novo Nordisk to successfully overcome the supply challenges surrounding Wegovy in the second half of 2022, and that Wegovy will likely become a blockbuster therapy for obesity from 2023.
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