Home Estate Planning Novo Nordisk boss ‘surprised’ by European demand for weight-loss drugs

Novo Nordisk boss ‘surprised’ by European demand for weight-loss drugs

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Novo Nordisk has found a “very high willingness” among Europeans to pay for weight-loss drugs, the Danish drugmaker’s chief executive has said.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen said: “The uptake we see has surprised us initially. We wondered, was that only a US phenomenon? We tested it out in Denmark and Norway, we saw more or less the same.”

“It’s perhaps the first time that you see a large population willing to pay out of pocket for medicine.”

The weight-loss drug Wegovy and diabetes treatment Ozempic were behind a record sales performance at Novo Nordisk in 2023. Wegovy, which works by suppressing appetite, was rolled out in the UK last year amid a wider European expansion.

It is also available in the US, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, the UAE and Germany.

Sales of Wegovy and another weight loss drug Saxenda doubled in Europe and the Middle East last year to around $1bn.

However, the drug comes with complications. Critics say users will develop the belief there is a magic medicine for losing weight and many who have successfully completed the treatment have subsequently put on wait after stopping.

The UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends Wegovy for people with a BMI of at least 35. If certain other health conditions are present, the recommendation widens to 30.

“I think most healthcare systems would acknowledge that if you cater for BMI with a certain level of comorbidities, there is a very strong case,” Jorgensen said.

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