Europe’s most valuable company is dedicated not to electronics, energy or making cars, but to developing a wide range of drugs to treat diabetes, control hemophilia and combat obesity. This is Novo Nordisk, a pharmaceutical giant based in Denmark, which has just launched a drug called Wegovy, an obesity treatment that is administered through the blood and makes patients feel full. visibly decrease in the medium term. While obesity is one of the major problems in the first world, this drug promises to be a bestseller as its results have been tested for years.
Novo Nordisk is not exactly a start-up, that is, an up-and-coming company recently founded by a group of young talents. The company will celebrate its 100th anniversary in three months. It was founded at the end of 1923 to produce insulin and only left its home country after many years. When they did this, back in the 80s of the last century, they expanded their business and expanded their catalog of medicines by relying on their own developments and acquiring small leading companies in their field. A few years ago it became one of the largest European pharmaceutical companies and, after the launch of Wegovy, the company with the highest market capitalization on the Old Continent.
At the beginning of this month, the company was worth $428 billion and cannot handle all the orders coming in from countries around the world where Wegovy has already been approved by regulators. This is despite the fact that where permitted, its use is limited to people with serious obesity problems and strict medical prescription. This is the case in the United States or the United Kingdom, where it has become fashionable medicine. Elon Musk, who has gained quite a bit of weight in recent years, has been known to take it. It’s not a rumor. He himself confirmed this on Twitter a few months ago. The same thing happens with some celebrities from the world of cinema.
But Wegovy goes beyond weight loss, which in itself is enough of a claim to sell like hotcakes in countries like the United States, where about 70% of the population suffers from varying degrees of obesity. According to a Yale University study published just over a month ago, this drug not only helps you lose weight, it may also be helpful in reducing heart attacks and the risk of stroke. The study results suggest that Wegovy-induced weight loss may have important secondary benefits, such as better cardiovascular health in people who do not have diabetes. Novo Nordisk is currently studying whether Wegovy could be used to treat sleep apnea and certain liver and kidney diseases.
For the company, such studies do nothing other than drive up the share price. Therefore, they are trying to get the Wegovy administration covered by major American insurers and European public health services. The problem here would be the costs. It is not a cheap drug. A monthly treatment costs about 1,500 euros and to lose between 15 and 20% weight, a treatment of almost a year and a half is necessary, more precisely 16 months, so about 25,000 euros, which is only within reach of a few.
To talk about this topic that has revolutionized the stock market and given hope to many chronically obese people, Andrea Martos, our leading biochemist who has not been here for a long time, returns to La ContraCrónica. Andrea will talk to us about what Wegovy consists of and what risks it poses.