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On November 2, Danish pharmaceutical giant Novo Nordisk announced its third quarter report for 2023. Consumer demand for the company’s weight loss and diabetes products continues to grow, exceeding market expectations.
The sales of Wegovy, a weight-loss drug that has attracted much attention from the outside world, have surged. In the first nine months, sales reached 21.729 billion Danish kroner (approximately US$3.094 billion), a 481% increase. About 95% of Wegovy’s sales come from the United States, where the pharmaceutical group is working hard to meet demand.
Novo Nordisk’s blockbuster drug is semaglutide, a GLP-1 drug that is favored for its good performance in the fields of diabetes and weight loss. Semaglutide has different indications and its trade names are Ozempic, Rybelsus and Wegovy. The indication for Wegovy is weight loss. Ozempic and Rybelsus are indicated for diabetes, the former is an injection and the latter is an oral preparation.
The semaglutide (Chinese trade name: Novota) that has been marketed in China corresponds to the semaglutide (English trade name: Ozempic) approved by the US FDA. Its indications are all type 2 diabetes, and there is no Approved for weight loss indications. However, the active ingredients of both Ozempic and Wegovy are semaglutide.
Net sales in the first nine months were 166.398 billion Danish kroner (approximately US$23.695 billion, calculated as 1 Danish krone is approximately equal to US$0.1424), a year-on-year increase of 29%; net profit was 61.72 billion Danish kroner (approximately US$8.789 billion), a year-on-year increase of 47% .
Novo Nordisk’s performance growth mainly came from strong sales growth in the treatment of diabetes and obesity. Among them, sales in the field of GLP-1 diabetes treatment increased by 45% in Danish kroner (an increase of 49% in CER terms), and sales in the obesity treatment area increased by 167% to 30.4 billion Danish kroner (an increase of 174% in CER terms).
In the Chinese market, total sales increased by 3%. Among them, the total sales of GLP-1 diabetes drugs in the first three quarters were 4.939 billion Danish kroner, a year-on-year increase of 95%.
Novo Nordisk’s strong rival Eli Lilly also announced its Q3 financial report. The cumulative revenue in the first three fiscal quarters of fiscal year 2023 was US$24.771 billion. The cumulative revenue in the same period last year was US$21.240 billion, a year-on-year increase of 16.63%. The cumulative net profit was US$3.051 billion, compared with US$4.307 billion in the same period last year, a year-on-year decrease of 29.17%.
Tirzepatide (trade name: Mounjaro®) is a strong rival of semaglutide and a blockbuster anti-diabetic drug launched by Eli Lilly in the second half of 2022. Its revenue data is extremely dazzling, with revenue breaking through for the first time. The $1 billion mark hit $1.41 billion, beating expectations of $1.31 billion.
Lilly said some Mounjaro orders may be delayed due to strong demand during the quarter.
Sales of tilpotide have increased significantly in each of the five quarters since its approval, and that was only in the case of diabetes. The hot demand has caused a certain shortage of Tilpotide, and Eli Lilly is trying to find ways to continue to expand production capacity.
Both companies’ blockbuster drugs are currently experiencing a common problem—supply exceeds demand. So in other words, these increases are the limits of capacity, not sales.
The global weight-loss drug market is expected to reach US$100 billion by 2030. Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk are the most competitive leading companies, and their strong demand is constantly pushing up the stock prices of these two pharmaceutical companies. Novo Nordisk is listed in the United States, with a market value exceeding US$450 billion, and Eli Lilly’s market value has also exceeded US$550 billion.
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