Novo Nordisk, a Danish pharmaceutical company, announced on May 4 that it would restrict the distribution of the popular weight-loss drug, Wegovy, in the United States to guarantee that those needing it for health issues can access sufficient amounts.
"Today, we are serving hundreds of thousands of U.S. patients with Wegovy," says the company. "However, trends indicate that demand for Wegovy in the U.S. will exceed our current supply capacity."
According to the company's statement, the Danish pharmaceutical company will deliver "limited quantities" of 0.25mg, 0.5mg, and 1mg dosage strengths to wholesalers to distribute to retail pharmacies while attempting to increase supply. The restriction is an effort to guarantee "continuity of care" for current patients in the face of surging demand.
The drug was given the FDA's approval in 2021 as a weight-management medication for obese or overweight individuals with at least one weight-associated complication. The medication supposedly works well for weight reduction and has faced shortages due to a surge in purchases brought on by celebrity endorsements.
Wegovy belongs to a group of three medicines called GLP-1 agonists. Type 2 diabetes can also be treated with the two additional drugs in this class, Mounjaro by Eli Lilly and Ozempic by Novo Nordisk. Wegovy is essentially the same medication as Ozempic but comes in higher dosages.
The frequency of obesity and severe obesity among American adults has significantly grown during the past 20 years. According to National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data, obesity rates have increased from 30.5% in 1999 to 41.9% in 2020. 9.2% of Americans are now seriously obese.
The U.S. is an attractive market for Novo Nordisk's weight reduction medications due to the high prevalence of obesity, as seen by the company's profits. Sales for the company's North American operations increased 47%, according to its financial report for the first quarter of 2023.
"We anticipate that many patients will have difficulty filling Wegovy prescriptions at these doses through September," continues Novo Nordisk.
The company, however, does not currently foresee delays in the supply of Wegovy in dosage strengths of 1.7mg and 2.4mg.
- CBS. Novo Nordisk limits distribution of low doses of Wegovy in U.S.
- Novo Nordisk. Novo Nordisk's sales increased by 27% in Danish kroner and by 25% at constant exchange rates to DKK 53.4 billion in the first three months of 2023
- The Wall Street Journal. Why You Might Not Be Able to Start Taking Wegovy