Novo Nordisk invests $6 bln in Wegovy production, still far below demand -CEO

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Novo Nordisk, the maker of obesity drugs, announced on Friday that it would be investing $6 billion to expand its production facilities in Denmark. The company has been facing shortages of its anti-obesity drug, Wegovy, which has seen tremendous success in the market. The World Health Organization has called obesity a “rising epidemic,” and estimates that more than 1 billion adults worldwide will be living with obesity by the year 2030.


Despite the success of Wegovy, Novo Nordisk’s CEO, Lars Fruergaard Jorgensen, believes that the industry is far from being able to produce enough weight-loss drugs to meet global demand. “With the capacity we’re building and what competition is building, I believe we are far from getting to a billion people,” he said in an interview with Reuters.


Jorgensen also welcomed competition in the industry, and said that the approval of Eli Lilly’s weight-loss treatment by US and British regulators will further fuel market growth. Analysts predict that the enormous demand for obesity drugs will drive annual sales to $100 billion within a decade, with as many as 10 different drugs on the market.


Novo Nordisk plans to use the $6 billion investment to expand its Kalundborg site in Denmark, boosting capacity for manufacturing active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) as well as across other parts of its supply chain, such as packaging. This will include lifting capacity for GLP-1 products such as semaglutide, the API in Wegovy as well as the company’s Ozempic diabetes treatment.


Although the announcement focused on API production, Jorgensen said that Novo Nordisk will also spend more to expand capacity to fill the injection pens used for Wegovy and Ozempic, a process known as fill-finish. The company will invest to increase fill-finish capacity at its own sites around the world, and also gradually expand what it does with contract manufacturers.


The $6 billion investment is the largest ever made by a private sector company in Denmark, and the construction projects are expected to be completed between late 2025 and 2029.


However, a healthcare banker has warned that increasing API production and fill-finish capacity could take at least three years and that the market may be overestimating the company’s ability to deliver the numbers it is forecasting.

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