Novo Nordisk has announced that an oral form of semaglutide, the medication marketed as Ozempic and Wegovy, has shown significant weight loss in an obesity trial, leading to its unprecedented continued success.
The research findings were released two years after Novo received approval for Wegovy and five years after Ozempic was authorized. These findings may further increase the demand for the drugs, which have become so popular that Novo has struggled to produce enough dosages.
Novo Nordisk disclosed the trial results, stating that patients in the research, which involved approximately 700 people classified as overweight or obese, lost 15.1% of their body weight over a period of 17 months, while those on a placebo lost 2.4%. This outcome is comparable to the weight reduction achieved with weekly Wegovy injections, which resulted in a 14.9% weight loss during the same period in a previous trial. The most common adverse effects reported in both trials were gastrointestinal discomfort, with the majority of cases classified as mild or severe.
Throughout the first year since the launch of Wegovy, Novo has continuously adjusted its production goals and sales forecasts. However, production challenges persist, leading Novo to announce that it will hire a second contract manufacturer for assistance. The Danish company has even suspended its advertising campaign for Wegovy in an attempt to moderate the drug’s increasing demand.
Novo may face competition from Eli Lilly with its competitor drug named Mounjaro. The medicine, currently licensed for diabetes, performed well in two obesity tests and may be approved as a weight reduction treatment by the end of the year. Similar to Novo, Lilly is retooling its factory to meet the demand. Earlier this year, the company announced plans to build a new plant in North Carolina to enhance the production of Mounjaro and Trulicity, another diabetic medication.
However, all of these medications are injectable. Novo Pharmaceuticals is leading a new battle against Pfizer and biotech company Viking Therapeutics to develop equally effective tablets. Data from a preliminary trial of one of Pfizer’s candidates were published in a medical publication, resulting in a 4% increase in the stock price.
Meanwhile, the Phase 3 trial reported by Novo is one of four trials on oral semaglutide conducted by the company. The study, known as OASIS-1, included 667 people who were obese or overweight and had at least one related condition. According to Novo, approximately 89% of individuals who took the tablet lost at least 5% of their weight, while about 25% of those on placebo did. The most commonly reported adverse effects were gastrointestinal in nature, ranging from mild to moderate in severity, and gradually subsided over time.