Novo Nordisk Revises Outlook: Reports 24% Growth in Q1 2024 Sales, Reaching DKK 65.3 Billion

by Bernice Lottering
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Novo Nordisk released its financial report for the first 3 months of the year. During this period, Novo Nordisk saw a significant surge in sales, experiencing a 22% increase in Danish kroner (DKK) and a 24% increase at constant exchange rates (CER), reaching DKK 65.3 billion. Operating profit also witnessed substantial growth, rising by 27% in DKK and 30% at CER, totaling DKK 31.8 billion. The pharma giant’s shares have increased by 24.9% since the beginning of the year, outpacing the industry‘s growth rate of 12.6%.

Diabetes and Obesity Care Dominate: Ozempic up 32% and Wegovy at 42%

Within the Diabetes and Obesity care segment, sales experienced a remarkable upsurge, reaching DKK 61.0 billion (27% at CER). This increase is primarily attributed to the continued strong performance of its flagship type 2 diabetes therapy, Ozempic (semaglutide), and a significant increase in sales for its weight-loss treatment, Wegovy (semaglutide). Here there was a reported 30% increase in GLP-1 diabetes sales in DKK (32% at CER) for Ozempic, and a 41% surge in Obesity care to DKK 11.0 billion (42% at CER) for Wegovy. However, Novo’s growth has been hindered by its capacity to scale up production fast enough to match demand. Similarly, competition from Eli Lilly’s weight loss drug, Zepbound, impacts sales performance, as Lilly works to enhance the manufacturing capability and expedite new market introduction. 

Nonetheless, CEO and president Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen expressed satisfaction with the company’s growth in Q1, highlighting the increased demand for their GLP-1-based diabetes and obesity treatments. Overall, Ozempic emerged as the top-performing asset, generating nearly $4.3 billion, representing a year-over-year growth rate of 35% at constant exchange rates. Wegovy experienced exceptional growth, with revenue surpassing $1.34 billion in Q1, soaring by 107% compared to the same period in 2023.

During Q1, the Danish pharmaceutical company reported revenue exceeding $9.37 billion, a notable increase from approximately $7.65 billion recorded during the same period in 2023. Additionally, Novo Nordisk, headquartered in Bagsværd, Denmark, achieved a net profit surpassing $3.64 billion in the quarter, translating to around $0.81 per share, marking a 29% year-over-year growth.

Sales Surge in U.S. by 34%, International Operations See 8% Growth

Sales within North America Operations soared by 34% in DKK (35% at CER), with a significant contribution from the U.S. market driven by favorable gross-to-net sales adjustments from prior years. Meanwhile, International Operations saw an 8% increase in Danish kroner (11% at CER).

Novo Nordisk’s long-acting insulin product line, including Tresiba, Xultophy, and Levemir, grew by 28%, generating $740 million. Additionally, its fast-acting insulin franchise, comprising Fiasp and NovoRapid, secured $644 million in revenue. However, revenues have been partially offset by decreasing insulin and Rare disease sales, with a reported decrease of 4% in DKK (3% at CER) in the Rare disease segment.

Novo Nordisk Raises Sales Growth Forecast to 19-27%, Sets Operating Profit Growth Target at 22-30%

During the first quarter of 2024, Novo Nordisk achieved significant milestones, including the successful completion of the FLOW kidney outcomes trial with semaglutide 1.0 mg. Furthermore, Wegovy received approval in the U.S. for cardiovascular risk reduction in overweight or obese individuals and established cardiovascular disease, while Awiqli, a once-weekly insulin icodec, was recommended for EU approval. Additionally, Novo Nordisk shared notable pipeline updates, including the initiation of a Phase II trial for its investigational GIP/GLP-1 dual agonist for obesity and the launch of a Phase I study for an investigational NRLP3 blocker in metabolic dysfunction associated steatohepatitis. In February 2024, Novo Nordisk announced its agreement to acquire three fill-finish sites from Novo Holdings A/S as part of a larger transaction involving Novo Holdings A/S’s acquisition of Catalent, Inc. This acquisition is expected to be finalized by the end of 2024, with hopes of bolstering manufacturing capacity to meet the increasing demand for Wegovy and Ozempic.

Looking ahead, Novo Nordisk revised its 2024 outlook, now expecting sales growth to range from 19-27% at CER, slightly up from its previous forecast of 18% to 26%. Moreover, the operating profit growth is projected to be between 22-30% at CER. Additionally, growth reported in DKK is anticipated to align with CER growth for both sales and operating profit.

Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen, CEO and president: “We are pleased with the sales growth in the first three months of 2024, driven by increased demand for our GLP-1-based diabetes and obesity treatments. More patients benefit from our innovative treatments, and the agreement to acquire the three Catalent manufacturing sites will enable us to serve significantly more people living with diabetes and obesity in the future. Within R&D, we are pleased with the positive results from the kidney outcomes trial with semaglutide and the label expansion for cardiovascular risk reduction for Wegovy in the U.S.”

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