Novo sees Wegovy sales dip on lower price, tight supply

Dive Brief:

  • Sales of Novo Nordisk’s obesity drug Wegovy slowed over the first three months of 2024, compared to the fourth quarter last year, as lower realized prices and continued supply constraints curbed growth from the in-demand medicine.
  • Still, the $1.3 billion in first quarter sales Novo reported for Wegovy was twice the total in the first quarter of 2023. The company has been working to boost supply and, in January, gradually started increasing the number of Wegovy “starter” doses.
  • Wegovy gained competition last November with the U.S. approval of Eli Lilly’s Zepbound, which brought in $517 million in sales in its first quarter on the market. Citing data from analytics company Iqvia, Novo said that, while new prescriptions of Zepbound are tracking slightly ahead of Wegovy, its drug has larger market share.

Dive Insight:

Novo is adjusting its sales strategy as it works to stay a step ahead of Lilly.

The company reported it’s getting a lower “net” price in the U.S. for Wegovy as it works to gain better insurance coverage there. Net prices reflect a drug’s cost after accounting for rebates and other discounts offered by manufacturers. 

The result was a slight sales decline for Wegovy, but a larger market opportunity. The drug is now available to 50 million people with obesity in the U.S. through a variety of insurers, including Medicaid programs in 15 states and some people with Medicare coverage, Novo said.

Wegovy gained limited Medicare reimbursement in March, when the Food and Drug Administration approved use of the drug to reduce the risk of cardiovascular events in obese people with heart disease. Medicare is barred by law from covering weight loss drugs for that purpose alone, but can reimburse for medicines protect heart health.

“We have a strong belief in the value of our products, but also a wish to treat more and more patients, and some of those come at a slightly lower price,” said CEO Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen on a conference call with analysts.

Novo and Lilly have struggled to meet demand for their weight loss medicines because of limited manufacturing capacity. Wegovy and Zepbound are complex biologics, making mass production more difficult. The two rivals are feverishly working to expand their manufacturing capabilities in response.

Last year, Novo limited access to the starter doses of Wegovy to ensure a steady supply to people already on treatment. More recently, it gained three production plants through a deal between parent company Novo Holdings and manufacturing partner Catalent.

Lilly is facing similar pressure with Zepbound. The company is undertaking “the most ambitious expansion plan in our company’s history” to scale up manufacturing, CEO David Ricks said earlier this week, in an effort to deliver substantially more usable doses of Zepbound and the similar diabetes drug Mounjaro in the second half of 2024.

This post has been syndicated from a third-party source. View the original article here.

Related Articles

Back to top button