Any publicity, even bad publicity, is good. So goes the old saying, but, for Novo Nordisk, too much publicity for its popular weight-loss drug Wegovy is becoming a bad thing, forcing the Danish drugmaker to turn off the marketing tap for the drug.
In a statement to Fierce Pharma Marketing, Novo Nordisk said that in order “to avoid stimulating further demand for this medicine, we’re pausing some key Wegovy promotional efforts.”
This includes all local television advertising, and Novo is also postponing planned national television advertising for Wegovy. “We are also assessing our promotional efforts to healthcare professionals and adjusting accordingly,” the spokesperson added.
This comes amid a major demand for its drug, which is FDA-licensed to treat certain patients with obesity but has become something of a social media and celebrity sensation, with outgoing Twitter CEO Elon Musk and social media influencers talking up the drug as a weight loss elixir.
This has been coupled with manufacturing struggles: Novo said back in April that it would boost supply of Wegovy after lining up a second contract manufacturer, coming after the first struggled.
But, earlier this month, Novo was forced to put the brakes on, saying it was “temporarily" reducing U.S. supply of lower dosage strengths to “safeguard continuity of care.”
Wegovy is Novo Nordisk’s injectable form of GLP-1 drug semaglutide, the ingredient in its diabetes franchise drugs Ozempic and Rybelsus.
The FDA approved Wegovy last summer for chronic weight management in adults with obesity or who are overweight with at least one weight-related condition (such as high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes or high cholesterol) with a BMI of 27 or more or in those with a BMI of 30 or higher in general.
It is set to be a major blockbuster, but the celebrity craze for the med, which has boosted the demand spike, will likely slow that launch-to-blockbuster prediction.