Novo's Rybelsus comes into its own as Wegovy shakes off supply constraints

Despite pandemic headwinds at launch, Novo Nordisk’s oral semaglutide med Rybelsus has come into its own.

For all of 2022, Rybelsus sales more than doubled to 11.29 million Danish kroner (about $1.7 billion), making the drug Novo’s second-largest growth driver after Ozempic, Camilla Sylvest, Novo’s head of commercial strategy and corporate affairs, said on a call with investors Wednesday.

Much of the momentum behind the drug came from overseas, with Sylvest attributing Rybelsus’ gains to launches in markets such as Italy, Japan and Spain.

Meanwhile, with a supply hitch now in the rearview, Novo’s obesity newcomer Wegovy is getting a chance to shine, too.

Worldwide, the drug brought in about 6.18 million Danish kroner ($913 million), just barely falling short of the billion-dollar blockbuster sales threshold.

Aside from Wegovy’s supply recovery in the U.S., the GLP-1 drug has also launched in Denmark and Norway, Novo’s North American head Doug Langa said during the company’s earnings call. But crucially, following an issue with a contract manufacturer in late 2021, “[a]ll dose strengths of Wegovy were made available in the U.S. again in December of 2022,” Langa said.

In the ensuing weeks, Wegovy prescription trends have accelerated and already hit “all-time high levels,” Langa pointed out.

Meanwhile, Novo is continuing to scale up manufacturing capacity of Wegovy, running one line in-house, plus tapping a contract manufacturer, Chief Financial Officer Karsten Munk Knudsen said. Novo has two other production lines slated to start running this year, he added.

Elsewhere along its GLP-1 roster, Novo isn’t sweating the launch of Eli Lilly’s Ozempic rival Mounjaro—which could eventually go toe-to-toe with Wegovy in obesity, too.

To hear Langa tell it, “[t]he recent competitor launch in GLP-1 has supported the continued acceleration in market growth,” with Novo continuing to see “all-time high levels of new patients starting on our portfolio of GLP-1 products by the end of 2022.”

On the whole, Novo’s 2022 sales increased 16% at constant exchange rates to 177 billion Danish kroner (about $26 billion). For the coming year, Novo expects to grow its 2023 sales by a range of 13% to 19%.