Danish drugmaker Novo Nordisk is cutting U.S. supply on certain dose strengths of its highly sought-after weight loss drug Wegovy due to strong demand.
Novo Nordisk – whose obesity care sales are being driven by the uptake in Wegovy, told FOX Business that it will only be able to supply limited quantities of 0.25 mg, 0.5 mg, and 1 mg dose strengths to wholesalers for distribution to retail pharmacies, “which will not meet anticipated patient demand.”
“Prescribing trends continue to increase at a substantial rate and indicate that demand for Wegovy in the U.S. will exceed our current supply capacity,” Novo Nordisk said.
The company projected “that many patients” will have difficulty filling Wegovy prescriptions at these dose strengths through September 2023. However, it doesn’t anticipate supply interruptions for its 1.7 mg and 2.4 mg dose strengths.
Wegovy and Novo Nordisk’s Ozempic, which is another version of the drug semaglutide – surged in popularity last year after celebrities and high-profile figures touted their effects on social media as a weight loss treatment. Ads for such drugs have even been plastered throughout New York City’s subway system.
Both drugs, which faced supply constraints due to unprecedented product demand, were temporarily listed on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s list of drug shortages last year. Both drugs are listed as “currently available” on the FDA’s site.
Novo Nordisk said it is still “serving hundreds of thousands of U.S. patients” and is actively producing and shipping all dose strengths of Wegovy.
On Thursday, the company announced in its first quarter earnings report that obesity care sales grew by 131% in Danish Kroner to DKK 7.8 billion, or $1.15 billion, which was “mainly driven by the uptake of Wegovy in the US.”
Novo Nordisk CEO Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen said the prescription trend for Wegovy in the U.S. “highlights the high unmet need for people living with obesity.”
The company raised its full year outlook given the sales momentum and continued expansion of the supply capacity.
In 2017, Ozempic was approved and marketed for medical use in the treatment of Type 2 diabetes “with weight loss as a secondary effect.” In 2021, Wegovy was approved by federal health officials for chronic weight management in adults who are obese or overweight and have at least one weight-related condition.
Semaglutide mimics a key gut hormone, known as GLP-1, that is activated after people eat, boosting the release of insulin and slowing the release of sugar from the liver. It delays digestion and reduces appetite, making people feel full longer.
However, medical professionals have noted that these drugs shouldn’t be used as a quick way to lose weight.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.