Wegovi, the anti-obesity drug whose sales success boosts the entire Danish economy

Vegovy Injection.

A big question about Wegovi is how long treatment should last.

At home in Denmark, Kasper Nielsen takes a packet out of the refrigerator and prepares to inject his next dose.

“It’s WeGo. You take it four times a month. Before I thought I wouldn’t live to be 60, that I wouldn’t be able to see my grandchildren, but now I see a bright future. I started at 159 kg. Now my weight is 93.5 kgSo I’m doing pretty well,” says Nielsen, 45.

Inspired by the buzz of social networks and famous patients like Elon Musk, Wegovi is an anti-obesity drug that sells out in pharmacies despite being available for a short time and doubts about the duration of treatment.

Global sales growth has been such that its Danish maker Novo Nordisk became the most valuable listed company in Europe last year.

“I think it’s the only drug that can be compared to Viagra.”Kurt Jacobsen, professor of business history at Copenhagen Business School, says, referring to Wegovi’s popularity.

Caspar Nielsen Caspar Nielsen

Caspar Nielsen says he has lost 60 kilos in two years.

How does WeGo work and where is it available?

For patients with severe obesity, Wegovi contains the active ingredient semaglutide, a substance that helps control blood sugar levels, reduces appetite and increases the feeling of fullness.

It is also the active ingredient in Ozempic, a medicine used to treat type 2 diabetes.

Research shows that patients treated with Vegovy may lose more than 10% of their body weight.

However, some consumers may experience side effects such as nausea and vomiting, Some studies also indicate Patients often gain weight after stopping treatment,

These problems haven’t slowed Wegovi’s sales, which are expected to grow fivefold in 2023.

It is currently available in Denmark, Germany, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, United States, and United Kingdom. Japan is expected to join the group at the end of February.

American, British and European regulators have indicated that it should be given by prescription to patients who meet specific criteria.

What does WHO recommend for the treatment of obesity?

The causes of obesity are many and complexBut the World Health Organization (WHO) and other major health institutions indicate that many preventable and reversible,

It seems that no country has been able to reduce the growth of this disease which is considered an epidemic.

According to WHO, the main reason for this is the lack of balance between calories consumed and spent. This imbalance is perpetuated by increased consumption of high-calorie, high-fat and sugar foods, in addition to decreased physical activity.

To reduce the risk of obesity and overweight, WHO recommends:

  • Reduce calories from fat and sugar

  • Increase daily intake of fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains and nuts

  • Do 60 minutes of physical activity a day for children and 150 minutes a week for adults.

Various studies show that exclusive breastfeeding from birth to six months reduces the risk of obesity and overweight in children.

Wegovi's maker, Novo Nordisk, can't make the drug fast enoughWegovi's maker, Novo Nordisk, can't make the drug fast enough

Wegovi’s maker, Novo Nordisk, can’t make the drug fast enough

great sale

Ozempic is now the best-selling diabetes drug in the world.

Novo Nordisk’s profits increased due to strong sales of both the medicines. In late January the company announced that its net profit rose 51% to 83 billion Danish crowns ($12 billion).

Novo Nordisk CFO Carsten Munk Knudsen admits this The great popularity of Ozempic and Vegovy took the firm by surprise.

“The demand for both diabetes and obesity in the market has increased much more than we anticipated,” he says.

Knudsen expects strong sales to continue in 2024. “We are targeting 18-26% growth.”

Emily Field, a pharmaceuticals analyst at British bank Barclays, says it remains to be seen whether Novo Nordisk can handle Wegovi’s demand.

“The underlying demand is so huge that they can’t adequately meet it,” he says.

Knudsen acknowledged that the company would not be able to meet demand “in the short term,” but said a lot of investment was being made to expand manufacturing capacity. “We are creating new features that have never been built before.”

For Denmark, a small country with less than six million inhabitants, Novo Nordisk is so big that it is having a huge impact on the Danish economy.

Danish economic growth in the first nine months of 2023 was 1.1%. If you remove the weighting of drug companies dominated by Novo, the economy would have shrunk by 0.8%.

The country now publishes economic data separately, without the pharmaceutical industry.

What doubts does Wegovy raise?

For almost a century, Novo Nordisk focused on the production of insulin. However, the company changed course after the discovery of semaglutide in 2004. Many years later this drug was developed as a treatment for diabetes. Its effect on prisoner losses was astonishing.

Marketing of Ozempic was approved in the United States in 2017 and in the European Union in 2018. Wegovi’s turn came in 2021 and 2022 respectively.

doctor Maria KrugerA spokesman for the Danish Society of General Medicine says the number of patients now requesting WeGovi has surprised doctors. He believes stronger guidance is needed to determine who should receive it.

“Social media is influencing people. I think it has to do with our idea that being thin is important for the perfect body.”

Similarly, he says that some people in Denmark who could benefit from the drug find it too expensive because they have to pay full price.

“A lot of patients who really have weight problems and can’t work and have some physical disability can’t afford this drug. I think it’s a health disparity,” says Kruger.

Caspar Nielsen Caspar Nielsen

Casper Nielsen says he lost weight thanks to Wegovi.

increased competition

Global obesity levels have almost tripled in the last 50 years 1 billion people are expected to be obese by 2030.

Against this backdrop, the sales success of Wegovi led to a race to develop weight loss drugs.

In November, US pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly got the green light to sell Wegovi’s rival Zepbound in the US. Its alternative, Monjaro, was already on the market for the treatment of diabetes.

“Novo and Lily are off to a good start,” says Emily Fields. “Everyone is racing to catch up.”

Novo Nordisk’s Knudsen downplayed the issue.

“The market potential is so great that there is enough room for two or even more competitors.”

At Caspar Nielsen’s home, he says continuing to take Vegovy helps him maintain his weight.

“Before I tried all different types of diets a million times… and it was always the same, same story. I lost a lot of weight and as soon as I eased off the diet a little bit, my weight went back up. There’s been less time and a little more time but now I’m thinking, ‘Okay, I’ve got my grandchildren and I’m going to play with them.’ I’m going to do all the things a grandparent should do.”

You may also be interested. on video: Clinical trial shows weight-loss drug may reduce heart attack risk

(TagstoTranslate)Casper Nielsen(T)Novo Nordisk(T)World Health Organization(T)Causes of Obesity(T)WHO(T)Sales

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