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The Growing Rate of Obesity: a Goldmine of 30 Billion for Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly

More than half of the population of the countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) was overweight or obese, according to the latest report published this November by the entity under the name Health at a Glance. Novo Nordisk and Lilly will capture around 40% of the total turnover of this anti-obesity market by 2030




Obesity is one of the biggest health problems worldwide. The population’s overweight rates, aggravated by the confinement period, have aroused the interest of the pharmaceutical industry.

Medications aimed at controlling sugar levels in diabetics began to show that the appetite of patients who took them was reduced, and this circumstance was understood as an opportunity within the industry. Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly took matters into their own hands.

The clearest case is that of the Danish pharmaceutical company. Mimicking the action of a hormone called peptide, similar to glucagon type 1, its solutions aimed at patients with diabetes have been revolutionizing the market for patients with obesity for months.

According to the report  Why Obesity Drugs May Be a New Blockbuster Pharma Category by Morgan Stanley, Novo Nordisk, and Lilly will capture around 40% of the total turnover of this anti-obesity market by 2030. In its forecasts, the American financial multinational predicted that the Danish pharmaceutical company would enter $9 billion in this market, while Lilly’s drug could reach $21 billion.

The key date in this progressive and incessant evolution is July 2021, when the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the marketing of the solution owned by the Danish pharmaceutical company Wegovy in American territory. In a market that had one hundred million potential consumers, the drug soon spread throughout the United States.

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In July 2021, the FDA approved the marketing of Wegovy, from Novo Nordisk, in the United States

Since then, Novo Nordisk’s solution has continued to grow, launching in recent months in the markets of Denmark, Norway, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Iceland. In fact, sales of the drug have almost six-folded during the first nine months of 2023 compared to the same period of the previous year, adding up to 21.73 billion Danish crowns ($2.9 billion ), 35.2% of the pharmaceutical company’s total profit. Danish, which was 61,720 million Danish crowns (8,270 million euros).

In addition to Wegovy, Novo Nordisk has a broad portfolio of obesity-related products. To give other examples, two more solutions from Novo Nordisk are Ozempic, a diabetes medication that is based on an active ingredient called semaglutide, also indicated for those people who want to lose weight; and Saxenda, a drug with the active ingredient liraglutide that is also used for weight loss.

However, Novo Nordisk’s proposal, in a constantly growing market, is not without controversy. In July of this year, the Spanish Agency for Medicines and Health Products (Aemps) investigated the alleged relationship between the drugs Ozempic and Saxenda in suicidal behavior and thoughts . In fact, in the United States trials with Wegovy did not suggest an increased risk, but its label contains a warning about possible suicidal behavior due to the risks associated with mixing it with other similar medications.

The Aemps investigated the alleged relationship between the drugs Ozempic and Saxenda in suicidal thoughts and behavior

The Eli Lilly case is also significant. Without going any further, this Monday the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (Chmp) of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) recommended the authorization of the American pharmaceutical company’s solution for the control of obesity in Europe, called tirzepatide.

 The drug is indicated as a complement to diet and exercise, it is supported by the fact that “obesity is a chronic and progressive disease that requires a multidisciplinary approach, whose treatment may include behavioral therapy, diet or exercise, but also pharmacological or surgical treatment,” according to Miriam Rubio, medical director of Lilly’s diabetes and obesity area in Spain.

The American pharmaceutical company increased its profits by 85% in the first half of the year, with $1.76 billion, boosted precisely by its anti-diabetes medications Mounjaro, Verzenio, Jardiance, Taltz, and Baqsimi.

Novo Nordisk and Lilly will capture around 40% of the total turnover of this anti-obesity market by 2030

More than half of the population of the countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) was overweight or obese, according to the latest report published this November by the entity under the name Health at a Glance. The publication, which analyzes the consequences of the pandemic on the population, points out that the physical activity patterns of people suffering from this disease were accentuated during confinement, driven by minimal generalized mobility.

The same report highlights that the proportion of overweight adults in the total population has not increased since the beginning of the century. Along these lines, the OECD points out that in countries where rates were historically low, such as Japan, Korea, Latvia, or Belgium, overweight rates increased between 1% and 2% annually. Within this statistic, the percentage of overweight among adolescents was one of the main public health concerns, with almost one in five young people suffering from this disease in 2021.

Following this same thread, on the occasion of World Obesity Day 2022, the World Health Organization (WHO) predicted that by 2025, approximately 167 million people will lose their health due to overweight or obesity. In his prediction, he broke down the disease, ensuring that it affects the heart, liver, kidneys, joints, and reproductive system, in addition to “leading to a variety of non-communicable diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, and stroke, as well as various forms of cancer and mental health problems.”


(Featured image by taniadimas via Pixabay)

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First published in PlantaDoce. A third-party contributor translated and adapted the article from the original. In case of discrepancy, the original will prevail.

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Michael Jermaine Cards is a business executive and a financial journalist, with a focus on IT, innovation and transportation, as well as crypto and AI. He writes about robotics, automation, deep learning, multimodal transit, among others. He updates his readers on the latest market developments, tech and CBD stocks, and even the commodities industry. He does management consulting parallel to his writing, and has been based in Singapore for the past 15 years.