The Danish pharmaceutical giant, now Europe’s most valuable publicly listed company surpassing LVMH this year, reported record-breaking operating profits and sales for the third quarter, underscoring the remarkable success of Wegovy thus far.
Shares of Novo were up by 3% at 0819 GMT, even though investors and analysts had been hoping for information regarding when restrictions on the supply of Wegovy starter doses in the United States would be lifted.
Novo’s CEO, Lars Fruergaard Jorgensen, refrained from providing a specific end-date and declined to elaborate on manufacturing details when questioned during a media call.
“We anticipate that the ongoing demand will continue to exceed the available supply in the short to medium term,” Fruergaard stated.
He added, “We don’t foresee a sudden, significant surge in sales—a ‘hockey stick’ development. Instead, we expect manufacturing to gradually ramp up.”
The company also disclosed in its quarterly earnings report that it had submitted applications in September and October to U.S. and European Union authorities seeking approval for Wegovy as a means to reduce the risk of cardiovascular events. This move followed the release of results from a significant study in August that demonstrated Wegovy’s clear cardiovascular benefits, potentially transforming the drug’s image beyond a lifestyle medication.
Novo noted that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had granted priority review for the application.
Markus Manns, a fund manager at Union Investment and a Novo shareholder, expressed that it is “slightly negative that Wegovy is still supply constrained.” Nevertheless, he found the decision to expedite Novo’s application in the United States to be positive.
SUPPLY CONSTRAINTS REMAIN A FOCUS
Novo has grappled with meeting the surging demand for its appetite-suppressing, anti-obesity drug, resulting in restrictions on the number of U.S. patients who can initiate treatment since May.
Wegovy sales reached 9.6 billion Danish crowns ($1.36 billion) from July to September, marking a 28% increase from the previous quarter and an eightfold growth compared to the same period last year.
In August, Novo had indicated that constraints on Wegovy supplies would likely persist into 2024. Investors and analysts have been eager for clarity on when the supply issue will be resolved, particularly as Novo’s competitor, Eli Lilly, anticipates U.S. approval for its Mounjaro weight-loss drug later this year.
The company also highlighted that U.S. prescription volumes for its GLP-1 class, encompassing its highly sought-after weight loss and diabetes drugs, had increased by 50% in the quarter compared to the previous year.
Last month, Novo Nordisk revised its full-year sales and operating profit guidance for the third time in 2023, reflecting robust demand for Wegovy and its diabetes medication Ozempic in the United States. Sales had surged 29% year-on-year to 58.7 billion Danish crowns ($8.33 billion), while operating profit (EBIT) had risen by 33% to 26.9 billion, aligning with the preliminary figures released the previous month.