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Inside Novo Nordisk, the Firm Behind Ozempic and Wegovy

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Lars Fruergaard Jorgensen has an issue: Too many individuals need what he’s promoting.

Mr. Jorgensen is the chief govt of Novo Nordisk, the Danish drugmaker. Even when the corporate isn’t fairly a family identify, the TV jingle for its best-selling drug — “Oh-oh-ohhh, Ozempic!” — may ring in your ears. Throughout the US, Novo Nordisk’s diabetes and weight-loss medication, Ozempic and Wegovy, have soared to celeb standing and helped make the corporate Europe’s most useful public agency. It will possibly’t make sufficient of the medication.

Mr. Jorgensen’s drawback is one many prime executives wouldn’t thoughts, however the success caught him off guard. Final yr, when the corporate was celebrating its centenary, Novo Nordisk’s income jumped by a 3rd, to 232 billion Danish kroner, or $33 billion.

“No one had forecast this progress — no analyst, no one within the firm,” Mr. Jorgensen stated in a latest interview on the firm’s headquarters in a suburb of Copenhagen. “No one forecast a 100-year-old firm would develop greater than 30 %,” he stated, seemingly torn between delight and amazement.

For many of its 100 years Novo Nordisk has been targeted on the regular enterprise of treating diabetes, one of many world’s most prevalent persistent illnesses. Even at this time, it produces half the world’s insulin. However the growth of Ozempic and Wegovy has led to an even bigger and bolder ambition to “defeat severe persistent illnesses.” That features treating, and even stopping, weight problems, which is linked to different well being points like coronary heart and kidney illnesses.

By pursuing a a lot bigger goal than diabetes, the corporate expects to unlock the door to a multibillion-dollar market with almost a billion potential sufferers. In the US alone, greater than 40 % of adults are overweight.

And so the Danish drugmaker is present process huge modifications — it’s getting larger, extra worldwide and nearer to the warmth of the highlight. Mr. Jorgensen is making an attempt to ramp up manufacturing to satisfy the massive demand for its weight-loss medication, keep forward of competitors from Eli Lilly and others and make sure the firm’s future so it may well meet its lofty aim.

However in all of the tumult, there’s something executives try to carry on to: the corporate’s longstanding values, codified within the “Novo Nordisk Approach.”

These ideas, which embody having a “patient-centered enterprise strategy,” have helped earn the corporate an excellent status at house, the place it’s thought-about a spot the place persons are proud to work. However these guideposts are going through stress as tens of hundreds of latest staff are employed, lawmakers denounce the drugmaker for its excessive costs and counterfeit variations of its merchandise make individuals sick.

The drugmaker’s head workplace is a homage to its roots: a contemporary six-story white round constructing impressed by the molecular construction of insulin. A staircase spirals round an open atrium. On the highest flooring, Mr. Jorgensen and the manager crew share an open-plan workplace house.

“Many people have been right here endlessly,” Mr. Jorgensen, 57, stated as a snowstorm gathered power exterior.

He’s labored at Novo Nordisk for greater than three a long time, and have become chief govt in 2017, a turbulent interval when the insulin market was underneath pressure: “Three revenue warnings in a single yr, and the share value had tanked by 40 %,” he recalled.

A few yr later, Ozempic hit the market.

Now Novo Nordisk constantly beats investor expectations. Final summer time, it eclipsed the French luxurious group LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton to turn out to be Europe’s most useful firm. Its market worth exceeds $555 billion.

For these on the sixth flooring, who rose by means of the ranks of an organization that focused on insulin, the modifications are coming shortly.

“Now it’s new sufferers; a brand new product presentation; generally new molecules,” Mr. Jorgensen stated. “It’s a very completely different, say, administration system and provide chain that’s required.”

The guts of the expansion is semaglutide, Novo Nordisk’s artificial model of a hormone referred to as glucagon-like peptide 1, or GLP-1, which helps the physique regulate blood sugar ranges. The patent developed by the corporate additionally proved remarkably efficient for weight reduction. It causes individuals to really feel fuller after they eat and reduces cravings. Physicians say it might revolutionize the way in which we take into consideration weight problems and what we eat; meals executives worry the identical factor.

Semaglutide revived the fortunes of Novo Nordisk. A few a long time in the past, the corporate was falling behind worldwide friends, with failed insulin medical trials and too little innovation. After which insulin began drying up as a supply of income, as U.S. lawmakers pushed value caps and drugmakers have been pressured to pay bigger rebates.

Ozempic, the model identify for semaglutide, a weekly injection for Sort 2 diabetes sufferers, has been round for greater than six years. However within the final couple of years, there was an explosion in recognition, helped alongside by heavy promoting, social media movies and intrigue over celeb use. Elon Musk stated he used it, and on the Oscars final yr Jimmy Kimmel made a gag about it. TikTok movies tagged Ozempic have a couple of billion views, with individuals documenting their weight reduction.

As Ozempic started to take off, Novo Nordisk pushed forward with Wegovy, which is semaglutide marketed particularly for weight reduction. By the point it was permitted by the Meals and Drug Administration in mid-2021, the Danish firm knew it had “one thing particular,” stated Camilla Sylvest, the manager vice chairman for industrial technique and company affairs.

Novo Nordisk leads the pack in weight problems remedy, nevertheless it now has sturdy competitors from Eli Lilly, which sells the same drug underneath the model names Mounjaro, for diabetes, and Zepbound, for weight reduction. Different pharmaceutical firms are clambering to catch up.

By far, most individuals utilizing Ozempic (two thirds of its gross sales final yr) and Wegovy (almost all of its gross sales) are in the US. That’s partly as a result of medication are usually launched first in the US.

Which means the Danes primarily have Individuals to thank for his or her financial progress. The enlargement of the pharmaceutical trade, largely attributable to Novo Nordisk, was accountable for all of Denmark’s financial progress final yr.

The price of these medication, although, has made Novo Nordisk a goal.

“There is no such thing as a rational motive, apart from greed, for Novo Nordisk to cost Individuals almost $1,000 a month for Ozempic,” Senator Bernie Sanders, impartial of Vermont, stated final month. A frequent critic of excessive drug costs, he stated Canadians paid $155 a month and Germans simply $59.

Ozempic might be a “recreation changer” preventing diabetes and weight problems, Mr. Sanders added, however “this outrageously excessive value has the potential to bankrupt Medicare, the American individuals and our total well being care system.”

Whereas the U.S. record value for Ozempic is somewhat underneath $1,000 a month and about $1,350 for Wegovy, Novo Nordisk says most American sufferers pay $25 or much less for Wegovy. A lot of the remainder of the price is shouldered by insurance policy, and a few have been overwhelmed. This month, going through ballooning prices, North Carolina give up offering insurance coverage protection for weight problems medication for state staff. Even Denmark’s nationwide well being service received’t subsidize Wegovy, arguing that it isn’t value efficient.

Mr. Jorgensen argues that top charges of weight problems result in huge medical prices, and that medication to finish weight problems in the end lower your expenses. “Well being care techniques are challenged, with growing old populations,” he stated. “They’re going to interrupt except we do one thing about weight problems.”

Though the corporate’s manufacturing amenities function 24 hours a day, twelve months a yr, the restricted provide of Ozempic and Wegovy is predicted to final for a number of extra years, worrying diabetics whereas counterfeits are leaking into the market.

Manufacturing capability is a recurring headache. Novo Nordisk has greater than 64,000 staff, and visitors jams exterior its buildings are widespread. On the headquarters in Bagsvaerd, arrivals after 9 a.m. may battle to discover a desk.

So Novo Nordisk is in the course of remaking itself. Cranes and building employees have descended on its websites because it spends greater than $6 billion this yr to increase manufacturing, almost 4 occasions the quantity it spent simply two years in the past. The corporate is shopping for extra manufacturing websites and vacuuming up workplace house in Denmark.

Greater than 10,000 individuals have been employed final yr globally, and the corporate is turning into extra worldwide — particularly American — because it expands analysis workplaces in Cambridge, Mass., and buys smaller biotech firms.

Mr. Jorgensen can also be making an attempt to remodel the mind-set throughout the firm. A few years in the past, he gathered executives on a retreat for coaching referred to as NNX, for Novo Nordisk Unknown. The important query, he stated: “What are your personal self-limiting beliefs that might set off you, block you, in really daring to steer in a unique surroundings?”

Since then, greater than 400 managers have been by means of this program, meant to assist them sustain with the corporate’s sudden progress.

Till drug provides can higher match demand, the corporate says, it must make troublesome selections about the right way to decide who will get what’s out there.

Ms. Sylvest says right here she is guided by the Novo Nordisk Approach, launched within the late Nineties. It consists of 10 ideas, like “we’re curious and innovate for the advantage of sufferers and society at massive” and “we construct and keep good relations with our stakeholders.”

“Come what may,” she stated, “it at all times helps us to have these necessities about what’s the fitting factor to do.”

Novo Nordisk, she added, doesn’t need to simply promote the place costs are highest — the US — however increase entry internationally for low-income individuals or these with inadequate insurance coverage, whereas additionally conserving present sufferers on the prime of the record.

Till not too long ago, weight problems medication had a dire historical past, together with when Fen-Phen needed to be pulled off cabinets within the late Nineties for inflicting severe coronary heart issues.

Weight problems was “a therapeutic graveyard,” stated Emily Discipline, a prescription drugs analyst at Barclays in London. The medication both labored nicely and had unhealthy negative effects or led to solely middling weight reduction, she stated.

However the science has modified quickly, together with public opinion on weight problems, which is more and more understood to be a illness that may be medically handled, quite than a failure of willpower and poor eating regimen.

Novo Nordisk is accountable for a few of this altering outlook. Final summer time, a five-year examine it financed confirmed that its medication might cut back the danger of coronary heart assaults, stroke and heart problems. That is “what actually received Novo Nordisk on the radar,” Ms. Discipline stated.

That makes a whole lot of hundreds of thousands of individuals potential sufferers. The marketplace for weight problems medicines might develop to $100 billion within the subsequent decade, in keeping with Barclays. Thus far, Novo Nordisk is treating about 40 million individuals globally with its diabetes and weight-loss remedies.

The U.S. patents on Ozempic and Wegovy don’t expire till 2032, however already Novo Nordisk is engaged on new remedies. It’s in superior growth of CagriSema, a weekly injection that’s anticipated to be more practical than Wegovy for shedding weight. Final month, its inventory value spiked after early trial outcomes for an oral pill of one other weight-loss remedy.

As the corporate digs deeper into weight problems, which is outlined as having a physique mass index above 30, the following query is whether or not the Danish drugmaker can stop weight problems. Can it predict who’s in danger, primarily based on genetics and the information, and deal with them first?

Final yr, Novo Nordisk established the Transformational Prevention Unit, an inner crew in search of methods to foretell and forestall weight problems.

Not everyone seems to be shopping for the hype. For greater than 4 years, Jefferies has had a damaging “underperform” ranking on Novo Nordisk inventory. Peter Welford, an analyst on the financial institution in London, thinks weight problems medication will turn out to be widespread and interchangeable, struggling the identical destiny as insulin, with larger volumes and stress on web costs.

“In the end, we predict Novo Nordisk must diversify,” Mr. Welford stated. However the financial institution’s wager that Novo Nordisk’s share value is just too excessive hasn’t labored out to this point.

“Clearly we’ve been mistaken,” he stated.



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Latest Posts

Inside Novo Nordisk, the Firm Behind Ozempic and Wegovy

spot_img


Lars Fruergaard Jorgensen has an issue: Too many individuals need what he’s promoting.

Mr. Jorgensen is the chief govt of Novo Nordisk, the Danish drugmaker. Even when the corporate isn’t fairly a family identify, the TV jingle for its best-selling drug — “Oh-oh-ohhh, Ozempic!” — may ring in your ears. Throughout the US, Novo Nordisk’s diabetes and weight-loss medication, Ozempic and Wegovy, have soared to celeb standing and helped make the corporate Europe’s most useful public agency. It will possibly’t make sufficient of the medication.

Mr. Jorgensen’s drawback is one many prime executives wouldn’t thoughts, however the success caught him off guard. Final yr, when the corporate was celebrating its centenary, Novo Nordisk’s income jumped by a 3rd, to 232 billion Danish kroner, or $33 billion.

“No one had forecast this progress — no analyst, no one within the firm,” Mr. Jorgensen stated in a latest interview on the firm’s headquarters in a suburb of Copenhagen. “No one forecast a 100-year-old firm would develop greater than 30 %,” he stated, seemingly torn between delight and amazement.

For many of its 100 years Novo Nordisk has been targeted on the regular enterprise of treating diabetes, one of many world’s most prevalent persistent illnesses. Even at this time, it produces half the world’s insulin. However the growth of Ozempic and Wegovy has led to an even bigger and bolder ambition to “defeat severe persistent illnesses.” That features treating, and even stopping, weight problems, which is linked to different well being points like coronary heart and kidney illnesses.

By pursuing a a lot bigger goal than diabetes, the corporate expects to unlock the door to a multibillion-dollar market with almost a billion potential sufferers. In the US alone, greater than 40 % of adults are overweight.

And so the Danish drugmaker is present process huge modifications — it’s getting larger, extra worldwide and nearer to the warmth of the highlight. Mr. Jorgensen is making an attempt to ramp up manufacturing to satisfy the massive demand for its weight-loss medication, keep forward of competitors from Eli Lilly and others and make sure the firm’s future so it may well meet its lofty aim.

However in all of the tumult, there’s something executives try to carry on to: the corporate’s longstanding values, codified within the “Novo Nordisk Approach.”

These ideas, which embody having a “patient-centered enterprise strategy,” have helped earn the corporate an excellent status at house, the place it’s thought-about a spot the place persons are proud to work. However these guideposts are going through stress as tens of hundreds of latest staff are employed, lawmakers denounce the drugmaker for its excessive costs and counterfeit variations of its merchandise make individuals sick.

The drugmaker’s head workplace is a homage to its roots: a contemporary six-story white round constructing impressed by the molecular construction of insulin. A staircase spirals round an open atrium. On the highest flooring, Mr. Jorgensen and the manager crew share an open-plan workplace house.

“Many people have been right here endlessly,” Mr. Jorgensen, 57, stated as a snowstorm gathered power exterior.

He’s labored at Novo Nordisk for greater than three a long time, and have become chief govt in 2017, a turbulent interval when the insulin market was underneath pressure: “Three revenue warnings in a single yr, and the share value had tanked by 40 %,” he recalled.

A few yr later, Ozempic hit the market.

Now Novo Nordisk constantly beats investor expectations. Final summer time, it eclipsed the French luxurious group LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton to turn out to be Europe’s most useful firm. Its market worth exceeds $555 billion.

For these on the sixth flooring, who rose by means of the ranks of an organization that focused on insulin, the modifications are coming shortly.

“Now it’s new sufferers; a brand new product presentation; generally new molecules,” Mr. Jorgensen stated. “It’s a very completely different, say, administration system and provide chain that’s required.”

The guts of the expansion is semaglutide, Novo Nordisk’s artificial model of a hormone referred to as glucagon-like peptide 1, or GLP-1, which helps the physique regulate blood sugar ranges. The patent developed by the corporate additionally proved remarkably efficient for weight reduction. It causes individuals to really feel fuller after they eat and reduces cravings. Physicians say it might revolutionize the way in which we take into consideration weight problems and what we eat; meals executives worry the identical factor.

Semaglutide revived the fortunes of Novo Nordisk. A few a long time in the past, the corporate was falling behind worldwide friends, with failed insulin medical trials and too little innovation. After which insulin began drying up as a supply of income, as U.S. lawmakers pushed value caps and drugmakers have been pressured to pay bigger rebates.

Ozempic, the model identify for semaglutide, a weekly injection for Sort 2 diabetes sufferers, has been round for greater than six years. However within the final couple of years, there was an explosion in recognition, helped alongside by heavy promoting, social media movies and intrigue over celeb use. Elon Musk stated he used it, and on the Oscars final yr Jimmy Kimmel made a gag about it. TikTok movies tagged Ozempic have a couple of billion views, with individuals documenting their weight reduction.

As Ozempic started to take off, Novo Nordisk pushed forward with Wegovy, which is semaglutide marketed particularly for weight reduction. By the point it was permitted by the Meals and Drug Administration in mid-2021, the Danish firm knew it had “one thing particular,” stated Camilla Sylvest, the manager vice chairman for industrial technique and company affairs.

Novo Nordisk leads the pack in weight problems remedy, nevertheless it now has sturdy competitors from Eli Lilly, which sells the same drug underneath the model names Mounjaro, for diabetes, and Zepbound, for weight reduction. Different pharmaceutical firms are clambering to catch up.

By far, most individuals utilizing Ozempic (two thirds of its gross sales final yr) and Wegovy (almost all of its gross sales) are in the US. That’s partly as a result of medication are usually launched first in the US.

Which means the Danes primarily have Individuals to thank for his or her financial progress. The enlargement of the pharmaceutical trade, largely attributable to Novo Nordisk, was accountable for all of Denmark’s financial progress final yr.

The price of these medication, although, has made Novo Nordisk a goal.

“There is no such thing as a rational motive, apart from greed, for Novo Nordisk to cost Individuals almost $1,000 a month for Ozempic,” Senator Bernie Sanders, impartial of Vermont, stated final month. A frequent critic of excessive drug costs, he stated Canadians paid $155 a month and Germans simply $59.

Ozempic might be a “recreation changer” preventing diabetes and weight problems, Mr. Sanders added, however “this outrageously excessive value has the potential to bankrupt Medicare, the American individuals and our total well being care system.”

Whereas the U.S. record value for Ozempic is somewhat underneath $1,000 a month and about $1,350 for Wegovy, Novo Nordisk says most American sufferers pay $25 or much less for Wegovy. A lot of the remainder of the price is shouldered by insurance policy, and a few have been overwhelmed. This month, going through ballooning prices, North Carolina give up offering insurance coverage protection for weight problems medication for state staff. Even Denmark’s nationwide well being service received’t subsidize Wegovy, arguing that it isn’t value efficient.

Mr. Jorgensen argues that top charges of weight problems result in huge medical prices, and that medication to finish weight problems in the end lower your expenses. “Well being care techniques are challenged, with growing old populations,” he stated. “They’re going to interrupt except we do one thing about weight problems.”

Though the corporate’s manufacturing amenities function 24 hours a day, twelve months a yr, the restricted provide of Ozempic and Wegovy is predicted to final for a number of extra years, worrying diabetics whereas counterfeits are leaking into the market.

Manufacturing capability is a recurring headache. Novo Nordisk has greater than 64,000 staff, and visitors jams exterior its buildings are widespread. On the headquarters in Bagsvaerd, arrivals after 9 a.m. may battle to discover a desk.

So Novo Nordisk is in the course of remaking itself. Cranes and building employees have descended on its websites because it spends greater than $6 billion this yr to increase manufacturing, almost 4 occasions the quantity it spent simply two years in the past. The corporate is shopping for extra manufacturing websites and vacuuming up workplace house in Denmark.

Greater than 10,000 individuals have been employed final yr globally, and the corporate is turning into extra worldwide — particularly American — because it expands analysis workplaces in Cambridge, Mass., and buys smaller biotech firms.

Mr. Jorgensen can also be making an attempt to remodel the mind-set throughout the firm. A few years in the past, he gathered executives on a retreat for coaching referred to as NNX, for Novo Nordisk Unknown. The important query, he stated: “What are your personal self-limiting beliefs that might set off you, block you, in really daring to steer in a unique surroundings?”

Since then, greater than 400 managers have been by means of this program, meant to assist them sustain with the corporate’s sudden progress.

Till drug provides can higher match demand, the corporate says, it must make troublesome selections about the right way to decide who will get what’s out there.

Ms. Sylvest says right here she is guided by the Novo Nordisk Approach, launched within the late Nineties. It consists of 10 ideas, like “we’re curious and innovate for the advantage of sufferers and society at massive” and “we construct and keep good relations with our stakeholders.”

“Come what may,” she stated, “it at all times helps us to have these necessities about what’s the fitting factor to do.”

Novo Nordisk, she added, doesn’t need to simply promote the place costs are highest — the US — however increase entry internationally for low-income individuals or these with inadequate insurance coverage, whereas additionally conserving present sufferers on the prime of the record.

Till not too long ago, weight problems medication had a dire historical past, together with when Fen-Phen needed to be pulled off cabinets within the late Nineties for inflicting severe coronary heart issues.

Weight problems was “a therapeutic graveyard,” stated Emily Discipline, a prescription drugs analyst at Barclays in London. The medication both labored nicely and had unhealthy negative effects or led to solely middling weight reduction, she stated.

However the science has modified quickly, together with public opinion on weight problems, which is more and more understood to be a illness that may be medically handled, quite than a failure of willpower and poor eating regimen.

Novo Nordisk is accountable for a few of this altering outlook. Final summer time, a five-year examine it financed confirmed that its medication might cut back the danger of coronary heart assaults, stroke and heart problems. That is “what actually received Novo Nordisk on the radar,” Ms. Discipline stated.

That makes a whole lot of hundreds of thousands of individuals potential sufferers. The marketplace for weight problems medicines might develop to $100 billion within the subsequent decade, in keeping with Barclays. Thus far, Novo Nordisk is treating about 40 million individuals globally with its diabetes and weight-loss remedies.

The U.S. patents on Ozempic and Wegovy don’t expire till 2032, however already Novo Nordisk is engaged on new remedies. It’s in superior growth of CagriSema, a weekly injection that’s anticipated to be more practical than Wegovy for shedding weight. Final month, its inventory value spiked after early trial outcomes for an oral pill of one other weight-loss remedy.

As the corporate digs deeper into weight problems, which is outlined as having a physique mass index above 30, the following query is whether or not the Danish drugmaker can stop weight problems. Can it predict who’s in danger, primarily based on genetics and the information, and deal with them first?

Final yr, Novo Nordisk established the Transformational Prevention Unit, an inner crew in search of methods to foretell and forestall weight problems.

Not everyone seems to be shopping for the hype. For greater than 4 years, Jefferies has had a damaging “underperform” ranking on Novo Nordisk inventory. Peter Welford, an analyst on the financial institution in London, thinks weight problems medication will turn out to be widespread and interchangeable, struggling the identical destiny as insulin, with larger volumes and stress on web costs.

“In the end, we predict Novo Nordisk must diversify,” Mr. Welford stated. However the financial institution’s wager that Novo Nordisk’s share value is just too excessive hasn’t labored out to this point.

“Clearly we’ve been mistaken,” he stated.



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