FRIDAY, Aug. 11, 2023 (HealthDay News) – As demand for the wildly popular weight-loss drug Wegovy continues to climb, drug maker Novo Nordisk said Thursday that it will continue restrictions on starter doses of the medication into 2024.
The new plan extends by months existing restrictions and means patients who are not already taking the medication will have to wait to start.
“We are going to continue to supply the market, but it’s just going to be on a limited form so we can have that continuity of care,” Doug Langa, executive vice president of North America Operations for Novo Nordisk, told CNN.
“We’re still producing all strengths and we’re still supplying all strengths to the market,” Langa said. The company had previously expected the restriction to last through September.
Eli Lilly is also struggling with supply and demand issues for its type 2 diabetes medication Mounjaro. That medication does not yet have U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval as a weight-loss drug.
“Supply will likely remain tight in the coming months and quarters due to significant demand,” Eli Lilly Chief Financial Officer Anat Ashkenazi told CNN.
Mounjaro targets a hormone known as GLP-1 and another called GIP, while Wegovy is a GLP-1 agonist, using semaglutide as its key ingredient. Novo Nordisk’s diabetes drug Ozempic also uses semaglutide, but in a smaller dose.
Prescriptions for Ozempic are now at almost 500,000, about 200,000 higher than last year, CNN reported. Meanwhile, about 80,000 people use Wegovy. Wegovy was shown in a recent trial to also reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke or heart-related death by 20%.
“This pace of demand is challenging to keep up with,” Langa said.
Based on body mass index, 120 million Americans would qualify to take Wegovy, Langa said. A person must have a BMI of 27 or higher, plus a weight-related health condition.
“This is categorically the largest unmet need that I know of in life science,” Langa said. “We’re super happy to be able to be bringing something that is so meaningful.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has more on semaglutide.