The company behind Ozempic is now worth more than the Danish economy

Sep 5, 2023, 1:38pm EDT
A 0.25 mg injection pen of Novo Nordisk's weight-loss drug Wegovy.
REUTERS/Victoria Klesty/Illustration/File Photo
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J.D.
Capelouto
J.D. Capelouto/

Novo Nordisk, the Danish company behind Ozempic, introduced its similar weight loss drug Wegovy in the U.K. on Monday, leading its market share to swell and making it Europe’s most valuable company.

Valued at about $428 billion, Novo Nordisk is now worth more than the entire Danish economy, which is about $406 billion.

Wegovy, which has the same active ingredient as Ozempic and is meant to treat obesity, is in high demand in the U.K. and is being prescribed through a "controlled and limited launch."1 But it's much cheaper than in the U.S.: It costs between $251 and $377 in the U.K. compared to more than $1,300 a month in the U.S.2

Within the small Scandinavian country, Novo Nordisk's success has been met with a mix of "euphoria and concern," The Telegraph wrote. The country would be in a recession without the company's growth, Denmark’s national bank has said, and the company recently threw "Denmark’s wildest staff party” to celebrate. But there's a concern that being so dependent on one company could be risky.3

Novo Nordisk and U.S.-based Eli Lilly are likely to hold a duopoly over the weight loss drug market for at least the next three years, according to UBS. The industry could eventually be worth $1 trillion dollars, with other companies working on similar drugs that could be released by 2027. "We haven’t seen a level of excitement like this in pharma since the Covid vaccines ... people don’t want to stand in front of this moving train," a UBS analyst said.4

Other industries are bracing for impact as the drugs become more widely used. One survey found that weight loss drugs can lead people to drink less, so the alcohol industry could see a reduction in sales, according to early estimates.5

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