Novo Nordisk shares rise as Wegovy shows heart benefits beyond weight loss
LONDON, Nov 13 (Reuters) – Novo Nordisk (NOVOb.CO) shares rose 3% on Monday as the market reacted to data the drugmaker presented over the weekend showing that the heart protective benefits of its popular obesity drug Wegovy are not solely due to weight loss.
The data presented on Saturday at a major medical meeting in the United States gave investors and analysts even more confidence in the cardiac benefits of Wegovy after Novo released preliminary data in August from its large study, sending its shares soaring 17% on the day to record highs.
The data released in August from the Danish drugmaker’s Select trial demonstrated that Wegovy, which has been shown to help patients lose an average of 15% of their weight, also reduced incidence of heart attack, stroke or death from heart disease by 20%.
Full results from the study showed that the heart risk difference between patients who received Wegovy, known chemically as semaglutide, and those on placebo began to appear almost immediately after starting treatment.
Markus Manns, a portfolio manager at Union Investment in Germany and Novo shareholder, told Reuters that the early cardiovascular benefit was a “positive surprise” that could be an important differentiator against competing drugs being developed by companies including Amgen (AMGN.O) and Pfizer (PFE.N).
Analysts from Jefferies said in a note that while Wegovy’s medical benefit for obese people with cardiovascular disease is clear from the data, cardiologists in the U.S. have told them they are focused on the high cost of the medicine. Wegovy has a U.S. list price of $1,000 per month.
Jefferies analysts forecast that the new data would not lead to reimbursement of Wegovy due to the heart benefit without U.S. Congress approval of a bill reintroduced in July that would allow the Medicare health plan to reimburse these medicines.
U.S. law classifies weight-loss treatments as lifestyle drugs and bars Medicare from paying for them.
Wegovy is part of a class of drugs that mimic a gut hormone that helps regulate blood sugar and appetite.
U.S. companies across sectors such as food and beverage makers have addressed investor concerns on the potential impact to their businesses from the growing popularity of the promising weight-loss drugs.
Novo was first to market with its highly effective weight loss drugs. Last week regulators in the U.S. and Britain approved Eli Lilly’s (LLY.N) rival weight-loss treatment, which had previously been approved and marketed as Mounjaro for diabetes.
Lilly shares firmed about 1% in U.S. premarket trading.
At the close of markets on Friday, Novo’s shares were up 47.5% this year.
Reporting by Maggie Fick and Boleslaw Lasocki, additional reporting by Medha Singh in Bengaluru, Editing by Louise Heavens and Miral Fahmy