Novo Nordisk boosts guidance as Ozempic, Rybelsus lead Q2 sales growth

Headline results for the second quarter:

  • Revenue: DKK 33 billion ($5.2 billion), up 10%
  • Profit: DKK 12.1 billion ($1.9 billion), up 14%

Note: All changes are versus the prior-year period unless otherwise stated

What the company said:

CEO Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen noted that growth during the second quarter was driven by Novo Nordisk's portfolio of GLP-1 treatments, with the company reporting that revenues increased by 17% on a constant exchange rate (CER) basis. "The strong financial performance in the first half of 2021 and the initial substantial demand for Wegovy in the US have enabled us to raise our outlook for the full year," Jørgensen added.

Novo Nordisk said Wegovy, a once-weekly GLP-1 receptor agonist approved by the FDA in June for chronic weight management, was has seen a total of over 8000 prescriptions in the five weeks since its launch, and that over half are patients new to receiving anti-obesity medications (for related analysis, see ViewPoints: Snap-poll results bode well for Novo Nordisk's new obesity launch). Meanwhile, the company noted that growth so far this year has been "positively impacted" by inventory changes and the timing of shipments.

Other results:   

  • Diabetes segment: DKK 26 billion ($4.1 billion), up 8%
    • Ozempic: DKK 7.4 billion ($1.2 billion), up 65% at CER
    • Victoza: DKK 3.7 billion ($589 million), down 7% at CER
    • Tresiba: DKK 2.2 billion ($350 million), up 7% at CER
    • Levemir: DKK 1.3 billion ($207 million), down 7% at CER
    • Rybelsus: DKK 945 million ($150 million), up 192% at CER, boosted by uptake in North America and international markets, with the product now having been launched in 18 countries
  • Obesity care segment: DKK 2 billion ($318 million), up 52%, including sales from Saxenda and Wegovy
  • Biopharmaceuticals: DKK 5 billion ($796 million), up 7%, with sales growing 21% at CER in North America and 8% at CER internationally       
    • NovoSeven: DKK 1.9 billion ($302 million), up 10 % at CER

Looking ahead:

Novo Nordisk now expects revenues this year to grow between 10% and 13% on a CER basis, up from an earlier range of 6% to 10%. Meanwhile, operating profit is forecast to rise by 9% to 12% at CER, whereas it had previously anticipated 5% to 9% growth. The drugmaker said its revised guidance reflects expectations for growth mainly driven by the diabetes and obesity care segments, but also takes into account "intensifying competition" within both diabetes care and biopharmaceuticals. Moreover, it said "continued pricing pressure" in the diabetes segment, especially in the US, "is expected to negatively impact sales development."

The company also said its outlook factors in "a number of assumptions related to the severity and duration of impacts from COVID-19. Consequently, volatility in quarterly results should be expected."

To read more Top Story articles, click here.