Novo Nordisk announces $6 billion investment in Ozempic, Wegovy amid shortages – WEIS

Negelle Morris, senior vice president of Novo Nordisk, speaks out on “Good Morning America” ​​about medications used for weight loss. Via GMA

(NEW YORK) – An executive of Novo Nordisk, the maker of popular drugs used for weight loss including Ozempic and Wegovy, says the company is investing more than $6 billion to help meet increased demand for the drugs. amid persistent shortages and high prices.

However, Negelle Morris, senior vice president and head of U.S. cardiometabolic sales at Novo Nordisk Inc., warned that even with the increased investment, there will still likely be delays in bringing the drugs to market.

“It’s not like a light switch,” Morris told ABC News’ Erielle Reshef in an exclusive interview that aired Thursday on “Good Morning America.” “The strategy is to be very conscious and thoughtful about the amount of lower doses that we bring to market, and I think over time the investments we make in manufacturing capabilities will ensure that we can meet that demand to fulfil.”

The three smallest doses for Wegovy, ranging from 0.25 milligrams to 1 milligram, are currently in “limited supply,” according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Novo Nordisk told ABC News that despite the shortages for Wegovy, the company has enough product on the market for 25,000 patients per week to use Wegovy – a fourfold increase since late last year.

In addition, Novo Nordisk has agreed to acquire three manufacturing facilities from pharmaceutical and biotech company Catalent for $11 billion, and the company expects to complete the acquisition by the end of the year.

Ozempic is currently available in all dosages, according to the FDA, but has faced shortages over the past two years as demand for weight-loss medications continued to rise.

Ozempic is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, but some doctors prescribe the drug “off-label” for weight loss, as allowed by the FDA.

Wegovy, a drug that contains the same main ingredient, semaglutide, as Ozempic, has been approved by the FDA for weight loss.

In addition to physical access to the drugs, financial access has also been a barrier for people with diabetes and obesity who could benefit from the drugs.

Without insurance coverage, out-of-pocket costs for medications such as Ozempic and Wegovy can reach $1,000 or more per month.

Last month, a US Senate committee led by Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont launched an investigation into the high costs of the two drugs.

Novo Nordisk told ABC News that the company is working with insurance companies to lower the cost of the drugs, and also with lawmakers to get the drugs covered by Medicare for obesity.

Morris said Novo Nordisk agrees the drugs “need to be more affordable,” but gave no further details.

“I can absolutely assure America that we are doing everything we can, not only to reduce costs and dedicate resources in a way that is consistent with the health care system we have in the U.S., but also to increase supply ,” Morris said. “Our production facilities operate 24/7.”

She continued: “The plan that we had to be thoughtful and certainly responsible, but also to increase access to this drug by releasing more of those lower doses, allowing more new patients to start, is something that we will continue to work on . ”

When asked by Reshef where the profits from the sale of Wegovy and Ozempic go, Morris said it goes back to research and innovation for new drugs and a unit focused on preventing obesity.

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