Fire breaks out at Novo production hub: None injured and construction timelines likely unaffected, company says

A fire broke out Thursday on the roof of a building under construction at Novo Nordisk’s key manufacturing hub in Kalundborg, Denmark, where the drugmaker is currently charting a multi-year expansion to boost capacity for its blockbuster diabetes and obesity drugs Ozempic and Wegovy, among others.

No one was injured and the fire has been extinguished, a Novo Nordisk spokesperson confirmed over email.

Production had yet to start in the building and there is “no expected negative impact on overall construction timelines," the spokesperson said.

The fire, first reported by Denmark’s Ekstra Bladet and other local outlets, caused billowing smoke to rise from the facility. 

Novo’s massive Kalundborg hub employs around 4,400 workers and produces half of the world’s insulin, according to the Danish drugmaker’s website.

Under an expansion project that kicked off in 2022, Novo is investing 60 billion Danish kroner (roughly $8.7 billion) in the site through 2029 to boost capacity “across the entire global value chain,” from drug ingredients to packaging. The company says the “vast majority” of the outlay will go toward active pharmaceutical ingredients (API).

The site upgrade is expected to create about 1,200 jobs.

Last year, Novo confirmed that the Kalundborg expansion will boost production of the semaglutide used in Ozempic and Wegovy, as well as the company’s oral Type 2 diabetes medicine Rybelsus.

Novo’s roster of GLP-1 drugs has proven immensely popular thanks to their weight loss benefits, but intense demand has led to repeated supply constraints over the past few years. To keep supply afloat, Novo has also telegraphed new manufacturing projects in places like Ireland, France and China.

While the fire at Novo’s Kalundborg site doesn’t seem like it’ll have any impact on production, the situation certainly could have been much worse.

Last summer, Pfizer’s injectables manufacturing facility in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, was hit by a tornado. By late September, Pfizer said it had restarted the majority of the site’s manufacturing lines but warned that the natural disaster could continue to crimp medicine supplies until “at least mid-2024.”