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Sales skyrocket for weight-loss drug firm Novo Nordisk

A waist being measured.
A waist being measured. Copyright M. Spencer Green/AP
Copyright M. Spencer Green/AP
By Eleanor Butler
Published on Updated
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The Danish drugmaker expects double-digit growth to continue into 2024 as demand soars for obesity and diabetes medication.

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Novo Nordisk sales increased by 29% in Danish kroner during the first nine months of 2023, coming in at 166.4 billion, according to a company announcement on Thursday.

Operating profit also rose by 31% to 76 billion kroner.

The record results arrive amid surging demand for Novo Nordisk’s weight-loss drug semaglutide, also sold under the names Ozempic, Wegovy and Rybelsus.

Due to semaglutide’s effectiveness in stunting appetite, it has gained worldwide recognition in recent years, and in September, Novo Nordisk became Europe’s most valuable company.

Celebrities such as entrepreneur Elon Musk or actor Amy Schumer have shared their experiences of using the drug, and dangerous counterfeit treatments have even started to pop up across the globe.

Others keeping a close eye on semaglutide are key players in the food and drink industries, as some fear it may dampen consumer spending on snacks and beverages.

After Nestlé’s shares dipped last month, company CEO Mark Schneider said that weight-loss drugs were yet to impact sales, but he announced the brand was working on “companion products” to the medication.

Supply curbs will continue

In May, Novo Nordisk introduced limits on semaglutide in the US to ensure continuity for patients already on the drug, as demand outstripped supply.

The drugmaker currently plans to boost output for next year but has nonetheless warned that restrictions will remain in place for the near future.

This announcement has frustrated some investors who had hoped for a clearer timeframe.

In its quarterly earnings statement, Novo Nordisk also said it had submitted applications for semaglutide to be used as a cardiovascular drug, following promising trials in August.

The company is gearing up to face a challenger, Eli Lilly, that is expected to have a new diabetes drug approved in the US by the end of this year.

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