The company has struggled to supply the drug to patients due to overwhelming popularity.
It may be a bit easier for some patients to obtain the popular weight-loss drug Wegovy.
Novo Nordisk announced that it has boosted the supply of lower-strength, or starter, doses of the appetite suppressant, according to a report from Reuters.1 While this will not be enough to meet the full demand for the medication, it should help patients looking to start the drug get their hands on it.
In May, 2023, Pharmaceutical Executive reported that Novo Nordisk had halted all marketing for the drug.2 At the time, the company stated that this was due overwhelming demand. The drug had gained popularity after being promoted by social media influencers.
Since then, the company has worked to increase production of the medication, although it has continued to struggle to meet demand. Around the same time that Novo Nordisk halted marketing for the drug, the company also limited distribution of the lower-dose version of the medication to the US, as reported by Reuters.3
The move was intended to limit the number of patients starting the drug so that the company could focus on the meeting the supply needs of patients already on the medication. Supply of the starter doses was cut by about 50%.
According to the latest reports, however, Novo Nordisk is looking to ease those restriction. While it will be increasing the supply of starter doses of Wegovy, Novo Nordisk is still hoping to control access to new patients.
The news comes as the company released its economic forecast for the coming year, during which it expects to see continued growth. Sales of Wegovy remained strong through the end of 2023 and have been consistent over the past year. The company expects to see significant growth this year, with a sales increase between 17-25%
However, Novo Nordisk is set to face to competition in coming months. Eli Lilly is set to release Zephound, a similar weight-loss medication in the near future. Of course, this competition could actually be a positive for Novo Nordisk.
Due to the shortages, the price of Wegovy has increased. This has created a situation where the drug has strong name recognition, but potential patients are unable to obtain it. Those that are able must pay the higher price point. As more weight-loss drugs enter the market, however, the demand for Wegovy will naturally decrease as patients are able to seek out alternatives.
Normally, this would be troubling, but since Novo Nordisk hasn’t been able to meet the full demand for the drug, this decrease could be beneficial. For example, a potential patient who is unable to obtain Wegovy may eventually move on and stop attempting to get it. While competition would potentially siphon off some customers, it will also make it easier for Novo Nordisk to make sure that more patients are able to start using Wegovy.
According to Reuters, Novo Nordisk chief financial officer Karsten Munk Knudson said on a media call that the company expects prices to gradually come down, but the decrease will be offset by volume expansion.