Novo Nordisk sees faster profit growth on demand for diabetes drug Ozempic

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FILE PHOTO: The logo of Danish multinational pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk is pictured on the facade of a production plant in Chartres

By Ludwig Burger

(Reuters) – Danish drugmaker Novo Nordisk raised its full-year earnings outlook on strong sales of diabetes treatment Ozempic, also reporting a better-than-expected profit.

In a statement on Wednesday, it predicted 2022 operating profit growth at constant exchange rates of 13-16%, up from a previous target range of 11-15%.

Nine-month operating profit rose 28% to 57.7 billion Danish crowns ($7.66 billion), above the 56.8 billion forecast by analysts, according to Refinitiv data.

It reiterated that it expects to make all doses of weight-loss drug Wegovy, a future growth driver, available in the United States towards the end of 2022, as it seeks to overcome production problems.

It belongs to a drug class known as GLP-1 analogues such as Ozempic.

“The growth is driven by increasing demand for GLP-1-based diabetes treatments, especially Ozempic,” CEO Lars Fruergaard Jorgensen said.

Analysts have speculated that Ozempic demand is partly driven by prescriptions to patients who seek to lose weight, which is outside of its approved indication.

In obesity, much of the company’s growth aspirations are riding on weekly injection Wegovy, which was shown to help patients lose about 12% of their body weight. It won U.S. approval in June 2021 as an obesity drug.

But a contractor filling syringes for injection pens for the U.S. market ran into production problems last December, which has left Novo scrambling to reorganise the launch.

Novo faces keen competition from Eli Lilly, whose monthly injection Mounjaro won U.S. approval for type 2 diabetes in May and it is under fast-track review as a potential weight-loss drug.

(Reporting by Ludwig Burger; editing by Jacqueline Wong and Jason Neely)