Wegovy woes continue as manufacturing issues will lead to further shortage of Novo's obesity drug
As the new year rapidly approaches, and gyms and health food stores across America prepare for a wave of people seeking weight loss, Novo Nordisk has announced that it does not expect to meet demand for Wegovy, its prescription injectable weight-loss medication for obesity, until the second half of 2022 in the US.
The shortage comes due to manufacturing issues at a contract manufacturer that was tasked with filling syringes for the pens. The news comes just days after Novo announced that it would invest roughly $2.58 billion to expand its manufacturing hub in Kalundborg, Denmark with three new facilities and the expansion of a fourth to keep up with the success of its diabetes and obesity med semaglutide, Wegovy and Rybelsus.
“We were making progress and had projected to stabilize supply in early 2022,” the company said in a statement. “However, we have been informed that our contract manufacturer responsible for filling the Wegovy pens for the US market has temporarily stopped deliveries and manufacturing following issues related to good manufacturing practices.”
This is not Novo’s first time dealing with a shortage of the drug in its young life. Supply sold out in June, soon after the FDA issued an approval for the drug and it launched. There’s already a one-month delay that led to Novo apologizing to customers for its inability to meet with an “unprecedented demand.”
Novo also sponsored a marketing campaign featuring actress Queen Latifah at the helm to change the narrative around obesity, looking to frame the diagnosis as a manageable health condition instead of a character flaw.
Over 40% of America’s adult population, around 100 million people, are classified as obese. Less than 10% of that population takes an anti-obesity medication. Wegovy is the same medication as Novo’s type 2 diabetes drug Ozempic, but at a higher dose.
“We are doing our utmost to overcome supply constraints, but unfortunately this will take time to resolve,” the company said.
The challenges facing supply are not going to impact the 2021 financial outlook that has already been reported, Novo said in a statement.
Obesity drugs have historically struggled following FDA approval. Novo’s Saxenda, launched in 2015, requires daily injections, and only 100,000 patients were prescribed the drug. Currax’s Contrave failed to gain traction, though it is still in play long-term, and Vivus filed for bankruptcy less than 10 years after its weight loss drug Qsymia failed to generate even $9 million in sales in Q1 2020.