Novo Nordisk is having a great start to the year, with the company reporting better than expected sales and profit growth in Q1 2024.

Novo Nordisk reported DKr61bn ($8.7bn) in sales from its diabetes and obesity portfolio, accounting for 93.3% of the total sales in Q1 this year. The obesity portfolio, which consists of Wegovy (semaglutide) and Saxenda (liraglutide), raked in DKr11bn ($1.5bn), with the diabetes therapies, especially GLP-1 agonists, making up the rest.  

Novo also revised its FY2024 outlook and now expects a 19–27% increase in sales along with a 22–30% rise in operating profits, compared to previous guidance of 18–26% and 21–29%, respectively. The Danish company also expects its obesity portfolio to generate DKr25bn ($3.58bn) in sales by 2025.

Novo is also planning to expand its obesity portfolio with CagriSema (cagrilintide/semaglutide), a fixed dose combination of cagrilintide, a dual amylin and calcitonin receptor agonist and the glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) agonist semaglutide. The company plans to potentially evaluate the therapy across the cardiometabolic spectrum, such as heart failure, MASH (metabolic associated steatohepatitis), and even obstructive sleep apnoea.

The company’s aspiration to expand the use of its obesity products to cardiovascular indications has been successful. In March, its blockbuster drug Wegovy was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases in obese or overweight adults.

Novo is planning to keep the sales momentum going with Wegovy and expects to launch the drug in China this year, following approval from the country’s regulatory agency. Despite identifying China as a key market, the company has plans for a volume-capped launch with a focus on the out-of-pocket market. The launch strategy could be due to the supply constraints which have plagued the company despite growing demands.

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To alleviate these supply constraints and boost manufacturing, earlier this year, Novo signed a $16.5bn deal to acquire Catalent, a contract development and manufacturing organization. The company expects the deal to close by the end of the year, with the three Catalent sites, in the US, Belgium and Italy, to start adding additional capacity from 2026. However, the deal has faced significant backlash since its announcement, with European regulators fearing a medicine shortage and Eli Lilly claiming antitrust concerns.

Novo also reaffirmed that diabetes and obesity remain their key focus areas for investments, with the company planning to build a ‘competitive pipeline’ in cardiovascular and rare blood disorders. The company also noted that it plans to outsource the development, through partnerships or acquisition, of gene therapies for a variety of indications including rare blood disorders and MASH.