Novo Nordisk's Wegovy soars, crossing $1B mark in a single quarter

As Novo Nordisk works through supply constraints, Wegovy again stole the show at the Danish drugmaker. 

For Novo overall, there’s “a lot to be proud of” in 2023’s second quarter, the company’s head of North American operations, Doug Langa, said in an interview.

First off, Novo’s sales climbed 30% to 107.7 billion Danish kroner (about $15.9 billion). That marks the “highest quarterly growth we’ve seen in the last 20 years,” Langa said.

Those sales are being driven primarily by Novo’s GLP-1 business, which includes the star diabetes drugs Ozempic and Rybelsus, alongside the company’s newer obesity offering Wegovy.

Diabetes and obesity care sales climbed 37% to 99 billion DKK for the three-month period, with GLP-1 diabetes revenues specifically rising 50%, Novo said in a press release. Obesity care, meanwhile, grew a whopping 157% to 18.1 billion DKK, including 7.5 billion DKK ($1.1 billion) from Wegovy. This is the first time that Wegovy has crossed the blockbuster threshold in one single quarter. Novo’s total obesity care business includes both Wegovy and its weight loss predecessor Saxenda. 

Wegovy has proven immensely popular since its landmark obesity approval in 2021—so much so that Novo has periodically suffered from supply constraints of the med.

When it comes to Wegovy supply these days, “that is certainly a focus, and it’s something that we’ve paid a lot of attention to right now,” Langa said.

Still, despite supply constraints, Wegovy was Novo’s top contributor to growth this quarter, Langa pointed out.

The demand for the drug is “simply incredible,” he said. Langa added that the company is continuing to increase supply and producing all five doses of the drug.

“Yet there still remains this significant pressure on our supply chain,” he caveated.

Novo has been limiting the supply of lower dosage strengths of Wegovy in a bid to safeguard continuity of care, the company first announced in May. Those limits on starter doses could last into next year, Novo’s CEO Lars Fruergaard Jorgensen told Reuters Thursday.

"I just have to acknowledge that the demand is so strong that despite the fact that we are ramping up manufacturing and producing more and more, there will be times where patients rush at the same time to the same pharmacies and there'll be shortages," he said, as quoted by Reuters.

But not everyone is abuzz about Novo’s Q2 performance. Analysts at Oddo BHF called the results “mixed,” though they acknowledged the “very good performance of the GLP-1 franchise” and suggested that “Wegovy is evidently in the spotlight.”

Insulin sales in China and the U.S., however, continued to be a drag on Novo, the analysts pointed out.

Novo already raised its 2023 sales projection in the first quarter, and it’s doing so again thanks to the “better-than-expected start for the GLP-1 franchise and Wegovy,” the Oddo BHF team said.

The company now expects to chart sales growth between 27% and 33%, up from an initial estimate of 24% to 30% growth.