Amid high demand, Novo Nordisk temporarily throttles US supply of low-dose Wegovy

Just last week, GLP-1 giant Novo Nordisk promised a supply boost of its in-demand obesity med Wegovy after lining up a second contract manufacturer. Now, though, the company is “temporarily" reducing U.S. supply of lower dosage strengths to “safeguard continuity of care,” the company said in a statement.

The company sees a "short-term need” to cut back on starter doses of the drug,” CEO Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen said on the company’s first-quarter earnings call Thursday. The CEO added that manufacturing is “running well” and that the reduction will play out over a “limited period."

“We’re not out of the market with the low dose strengths. We’re just reducing supply,” Jørgensen said, noting that patients will still be able to get the product, just possibly with a longer wait time.

Meanwhile, the Danish drugmaker posted huge obesity revenue gains of 124% versus last year's first quarter, rising to 7.8 billion Danish kroner ($1.15 billion). The performance came after the company in January relaunched Wegovy following prior manufacturing hiccups.

As for the broader question of Wegovy supply, Novo is “very encouraged” about its ability to scale up manufacturing, Jørgensen said.

Elsewhere in Novo's portfolio, the company's GLP-1 diabetes franchise delivered revenue gains of 50%, reaching 26.8 billion Danish kroner ($3.96 billion) in the first quarter. The company commands international GLP-1 market share of 65%, executive vice president of commercial strategy and corporate affairs Camilla Sylvest noted on the call. The franchise features the popular products Ozempic, Rybelsis and Victoza.

Ozempic in particular has seen a sharp rise of prescriptions from new patients, with “close to 90%” of prescriptions coming from GLP-1 naïve patients, Executive Vice President Doug Langa said on the call.

In total, Novo pulled down sales of 53 billion Danish kroner ($7.9 billion) during the period, growing 25% from last year’s first quarter. The company delivered profits of 19.8 billion Danish krone ($2.93 billion). The sales growth is countered in part by higher costs stemming from “ongoing capacity expansions” and lower realized prices in the U.S. and China, Chief Financial Officer Karsten Munk Knudsen noted.

The company recently raised its 2023 revenue growth outlook to between 24% and 30% at constant exchange rates from a prior range of 13% to 19%.