Novo Nordisk Taps Thermo Fisher to Help Meet Wegovy Demand: Reuters

Facade of Novo Nordisk's office in Fremont, California

Fremont, CA, USA - Mar 3, 2020: Danish multinational pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk A/S office building in Fremont, California, United States.

iStock, hapabapa

The Danish drugmaker is leveraging Thermo Fisher Scientific as Wegovy demand surges and amid production problems with manufacturer Catalent, Reuters reported on Wednesday.

Pictured: Novo Nordisk’s office in California/iStock, hapabapa

Danish pharma company Novo Nordisk has brought in Thermo Fisher Scientific as a second manufacturer as demand for its weight-loss drug Wegovy (semaglutide) soars and amid Catalent’s production problems at a factory in Brussels, Belgium, according to reporting Wednesday by Reuters.

Thermo Fisher is reportedly filling Wegovy injection pens at its factory in Greenville, NC through its CDMO subsidiary Patheon. Reuters’ source declined to be named as the information was confidential, according to the news agency, which initially reported back in May that Novo had brought on a second, then-unnamed manufacturer.

The news comes after reports of difficulties with Catalent, the first manufacturer contracted by Novo to produce Wegovy. Deliveries were halted in late 2021 only months after the drug’s launch, when the FDA found issues at the Brussels syringe-filling facility. The facility was shut down again in 2022 after another inspection by the regulator found lapses. Novo ended up cutting back promotional efforts for the drug amid the production difficulties.

Nor was this the end of Catalent’s woes. An FDA Form 483 at one of its production plants delayed production of its Moderna COVID-19 booster, and recent shortfalls in sanitation, maintenance, and equipment issues cited by the FDA saw the facility shut down again.

The company’s long-awaited financial report for the third-quarter of 2023 saw revenues fall 19% below last year’s earnings for the same quarter, though this beat Wall Street projections. Shares actually rose 10% after the news broke, though this represents only a partial recovery; shares fell over 40% from April after news of its operational issues broke.

Catalent CEO Allesandro Maselli said in the report that the “fundamentals of our business remain strong,” despite operational challenges. “We continue to make progress in addressing our previously announced operational challenges, while also completing our strategic investments in high-demand, high-growth areas and executing a company-wide cost-reduction plan,” he said. Part of that reduction plan included laying off hundreds of workers last year.

Connor Lynch is a freelance writer based in Ottawa, Canada. Reach him at lynchjourno@gmail.com.

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