As Novo Nordisk looks to get back on track when it comes supplying its new and highly regarded weight loss drug Wegovy this year, it’s taking a slower approach when it comes to marketing.
Talking to Fierce Pharma Marketing, a Novo Nordisk spokesperson said the Danish pharma “will closely monitor prescribing trends and phase promotional efforts as we assess demand” for Wegovy, which has been dogged by manufacturing issues and a unique off-label problem that has seen the drug used by a growing number of people for weight loss, many of whom should not be prescribed the drug.
The Novo spokesperson added that while the company cannot talk about specific marketing or commercial plans, a “commercial Wegovy re-launch is expected to commence in the coming months.”
Wegovy is Novo Nordisk’s injectable form of GLP-1 drug semaglutide, the ingredient in its blockbuster diabetes franchise Ozempic and Rybelsus.
The FDA approved Wegovy in the summer of 2021 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 greater in general.
In the fall, it nabbed a surprise endorsement from Twitter CEO Elon Musk, who tweeted in a reply to questions over his weight loss in 2022 that he had been using Wegovy, though there are questions over whether this was prescribed as per its indication.
There are reports that many others have been doing this same thing, including those with a lower BMI or no weight-loss-related condition that the drug’s label demands, leading to an unusual spike in demand for the drug.
In fact, a recent report by Variety claimed that a growing number of celebrities are also said to be paying big bucks to use Ozempic, but in a slightly different dose, to tap its weight loss effects, and in effect try to mimic what Wegovy is for it too can help people lose weight.
This has caused Wegovy supply issues for Novo which, coupled with manufacturing problems, only deepened bumps in production last year for the drug and led to an official shortage of the drug in 2022.
Novo said these issues are now mainly in the rearview mirror, with the spokesperson saying the company has “taken significant measures to minimize disruption moving forward” and that “all dose strengths of Wegovy are now available to retail pharmacies nationwide," although they added that overall demand is “still uncertain” and that “keeping supply stable is a priority.”
The spokesperson added on the off-label use of Ozempic that “while we recognize that some healthcare providers may be prescribing Ozempic for patients whose goal is to lose weight, Novo Nordisk does not promote, suggest, or encourage off-label use of our medicines,” which of course it can’t legally, but also in this instance is causing the company issues.