Novo Nordisk has initiated the rollout of its Wegovy weight loss injection in the United Kingdom, marking a significant step in expanding the drug’s presence in Europe despite facing ongoing supply challenges. The Danish pharmaceutical giant has opted for a carefully managed and limited introduction of the weekly injection.
Initially, Wegovy will only be accessible to specific patients through the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), alongside the option for private access. To be eligible for treatment, patients must meet the criteria outlined by the NHS weight management service, have at least one weight-related condition, and maintain a body mass index (BMI) of 35 or higher, as per guidelines from the National Institute for Care and Excellence.
Novo Nordisk has also indicated that the medication will be accessible privately through registered healthcare professionals, although precise information regarding this option has not been disclosed.
Although Novo Nordisk did not disclose the final negotiated price with NHS England for Wegovy, it did note that the UK’s drug cost-effectiveness watchdog, NICE, has regarded it as a cost-effective utilization of NHS resources. The private market will establish pricing through licensed prescribers.
In the United States, Wegovy has a listed price of $1,350 for a monthly dose, whereas in Europe, it is available for approximately 170 to 300 euros ($190-$330) per month. It’s worth noting that British insurance provider Aviva, which serves about 1.1 million policyholders, has declared that Wegovy will not be included in its coverage.
The launch of Wegovy in the UK comes shortly after its introduction in Germany, marking the drug’s third European market, following Denmark and Norway. The drug’s surging demand, combined with clinical studies showcasing its broader health benefits, has propelled Novo Nordisk’s shares to record highs. In fact, for a brief period, the company overtook French luxury goods giant LVMH as Europe’s most valuable company.
Despite these achievements, the persistent challenges related to supply continue to pose hurdles to Wegovy’s wider distribution. Novo Nordisk CEO Lars Fruergaard Jorgensen has acknowledged that it may take “several years” for the company to meet all consumer demands. In the United Kingdom, Novo Nordisk has pledged to set aside a segment of the currently accessible supply solely for NHS treatment and is actively cooperating with healthcare experts to give priority to patients with the most urgent unmet medical requirements.
Novo Nordisk’s approach to managing supply extends to other markets as well. In the US, the company took measures to reduce the supply of starter doses in May to ensure continuity for existing patients, and in Germany, it advised physicians to exercise responsible prescribing, limiting prescriptions to patients with genuine medical needs.