Novo Nordisk (NVO) Flags “Supply Disruptions” for Its Wegovy GLP-1 Weight Loss Drug Amid Soaring Demand as the FDA Quantifies “Small” Suicide Risk

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Novo Nordisk is currently plowing billions of dollars into new facilities to satiate the rip-roaring demand for its GLP-1 cocktail Wegovy. Yet, a sizable supply-demand gap persists, prompting the pharma giant to flag the possibility of “supply disruptions” in the near term.

To wit, Novo Nordisk has now announced via a supply update that it has resumed the shipments of 1.7 mg dose strength Wegovy GLP-1 cocktail in the US following a “short-term stock-out.” Bear in mind that 1.7 and 2.4 mg dose strengths are primarily geared toward weight loss maintenance. However, the company chose to flag the potential for further supply-side disruptions, given the outsized demand for its bespoke GLP-1 cocktail:

“… Overall demand continues to outpace our increasing production of Wegovy®. As a result, we anticipate [the] potential for ongoing supply disruptions, and some patients may continue having difficulty filling Wegovy® prescriptions.”

Do note that Novo Nordisk has already earmarked $9.5 billion for new production sites and capacity enhancements, with around $7 billion allocated for various investments in Denmark and a further $2.5 billion tagged for France.

Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 (GLP-1) hormone plays an important role in regulating hunger by stimulating the release of insulin in the pancreas, blocking the release of excess glucagon after meals to prevent large amounts of glucose from entering the bloodstream, and slowing the emptying of the stomach to reduce the overall food intake. Simultaneously, GLP-1 receptors also suppress the brain’s stress response and reward/reinforcement mechanisms to increase the feeling of satiation.

GLP-1 forms the bedrock of Novo Nordisk’s Semaglutide offering, marketed under Ozempic and Wegovy labels, with the former geared toward type-2 diabetes and the latter marketed as a treatment for teen obesity.

The FDA has been looking into reports of suicidal thoughts or actions as a direct result of GLP-1 drugs from the likes of Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly and Company (LLY). Last week, the regulator provided an update on its ongoing evaluation, noting:

“Because the info provided was often limited and because these events can be influenced by other potential factors, we determined that the information in these reports did not demonstrate a clear relationship with the use of [GLP-1s].”

A recent fairly large study in the US also found no evidence to back up the claims that GLP-1 drugs could lead to suicidal thoughts or actions.

Nonetheless, the existence of a “small number” of reports on this side effect via the FDA’s Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS) has prompted the agency to maintain vigilance and continue to “look into this issue.”

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