Growing demand for weight loss treatments drives sales at drugmaker Novo Nordisk

Drugmaker Novo Nordisk has revealed sales of its popular weight loss medicine doubled over the start of the year, driving higher earnings.

The Danish company warned over supply constraints as it said it was seeing strong demand for its obesity treatments around the world.

It reported net sales of 65.3 billion Danish krone (£7.5 billion) for the first quarter of 2023, nearly a quarter higher than the same period a year ago.

Sales of obesity medicine Wegovy doubled to 9.4 billion Danish krone (£1.1 billion) from 4.6 billion Danish krone (£530 million) last year.

It is a newly available treatment in the UK so is still monitored closely.

Demand for Wegovy currently exceeds the supply, Novo Nordisk said, which led it to reduce the availability of lower-dose medicines in the US last year.

It has started gradually increasing the supply this year and said it is investing in capacity to increase supply in the short term and in the future.

Meanwhile, sales of alternative injection pen Ozempic soared by 43% to 27.8 billion Danish krone (£3.2 billion) in the latest quarter.

Ozempic is a medicine designed to treat people with type 2 diabetes, and is not licensed as a weight loss treatment like Wegovy.

An Ozempic needle injection pen
Ozempic is a medicine designed to treat people with type 2 diabetes (Alamy/PA)

Novo Nordisk dominates the market for obesity treatment with a global market share of more than 85%.

It also has a share of more than half of the global market for GLP-1-based products, the class of drugs that treat diabetes and obesity.

The pharmaceutical giant sells its products in around 170 countries including the UK and the US.

It reported an operating profit for the first quarter of 31.8 billion Danish kroner (£3.6 billion) for the first quarter, 30% higher than the previous year.

Lars Fruergaard Jorgensen, president and chief executive of Novo Nordisk, said: “We are pleased with the sales growth in the first three months of 2024, driven by increased demand for our GLP-1-based diabetes and obesity treatments.

“More patients benefit from our innovative treatments, and the agreement to acquire the three Catalent manufacturing sites will enable us to serve significantly more people living with diabetes and obesity in the future.”

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