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Novo Nordisk CEO 'confident' Catalent will resolve Wegovy output problems

Aug 30, 2023

[1/3]A general view of the drug product manufacturing laboratory in biologics and sterile injectables, Catalent, in Brussels, Belgium June 27, 2023. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo Acquire Licensing Rights

Aug 25 (Reuters) - Novo Nordisk Chief Executive Lars Fruergaard Jorgensen said on Friday he was confident Catalent (CTLT.N) would resolves its problems making Novo's hugely-popular weight-loss drug Wegovy as the company scrambles to boost output to meet soaring demand.

"I am confident in that," Jorgensen said at a Reuters Newsmaker event, when asked about the issues Catalent has had.

Reuters reported in July that Catalent's factory in Brussels that fills Wegovy injection pens had repeatedly breached U.S. sterile-safety rules in recent years and staff had failed to perform required quality checks.

"These are not easy products to produce ... now we are leveraging contract manufacturers and also there is a learning scale, there is a ramp scale," he said, as he held up one of the self-injection pens, which he noted contains a glass vial that must be filled in sterile conditions.

He said very few companies could make such products at scale.

Novo hopes to have a third external facility filling and finishing the injection pens by 2024, Jorgensen said. The Danish drugmaker has previously said it expected to add the third line in the second half of this year.

Even so, it will be "quite some years" before the company can satisfy the whole market for Wegovy, Jorgensen said.

Reuters reported this week that Novo had hired Thermo Fisher (TMO.N) as its second contract manufacturer for Wegovy.

Jorgensen reiterated that, given the runaway demand for Wegovy, the "massive" ramp-up of production of the injection pen was unprecedented.

"I think it would probably be hard to find any other examples in drug history of anything that has been ramped as much," he said.

Reporting by Maggie Fick;Editing by Josephine Mason and Mark Potter

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