Demand for Novo Nordisk's new weight-loss drug Wegovy outstripped early supply, analysts say

Novo Nordisk
Novo now expects full year 2021 sales to grow by 10% to 13% at constant exchange rates.(Novo Nordisk)

Novo Nordisk’s GLP-1 empire is on the ascent, courtesy of its diabetes stalwarts Ozempic and Rybelsus, plus its newly-approved obesity drug Wegovy. With momentum building—and facing "substantial" demand for its new weight loss med—the Danish drugmaker is dialing up its performance forecast for the year, CEO Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen said Wednesday. 

During the first six months of 2021, Novo's diabetes and obesity sales grew 13% at constant exchange rates, clocking in at 56.9 billion Danish kroner ($9.05 billion), the company said in an earnings release.

Sales for the company's GLP-1 arsenal, which includes Ozempic and its oral counterpart Rybelsus, leapt 30% at constant currencies.

Meanwhile, sales in obesity care jumped 34% at constant currencies for the six-month period, Novo said. While Novo didn't break out sales for new weight-loss drug Wegovy, Jefferies analysts estimated the med generated between DKK 250 million and DKK 300 million ($40 million to $48 million) after its approval in early June.

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Initial demand for the drug in the U.S. has "exceeded supply," Jefferies analysts wrote. That's resulted in temporary delays on the filling of some prescriptions, the Jefferies team said.

But on the flip side, the "initial substantial demand" helped the company raise its expectations for the rest of the year, CEO Jørgensen said in a statement. 

Overall sales for the first half of the year landed at 66.8 billion Danish Kroner ($10.63 billion), signaling a 12% jump over the same period last year. With the performance, Novo expects to chart 10% to 13% sales growth for the full year versus the 6% to 10% it had previously predicted.

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While Rybelsus sales grew during the quarter, the med failed to meet consensus analyst expectations. Analysts had estimated the drug would pull in DKK 1.17 billion ($190 million) while it actually generated DKK 950 million ($150 million), the Jefferies team wrote.