The hyped anti-obesity drug from Novo Nordisk was found to cut the risk of major cardiovascular events, such as stroke and heart attacks, by a whopping 20%, the company announced yesterday.
These findings, which came from a late-stage clinical trial, are important for two reasons:
- They show that Wegovy could be more than a lifestyle drug that helps people shed pounds. It also has considerable benefits for heart disease, the No. 1 cause of death in the US.
- And, given those wider benefits, insurance companies and Medicare could feel pressured to start covering the popular, pricey medication, which many insurers have avoided since it wasn’t deemed essential to overall health. Wegovy costs over $1,300 per month for weekly injections.
“If they play baseball in Denmark, Wegovy just hit a home run,” Barclays analyst Emily Field wrote, referencing Novo Nordisk’s Danish home base. (Just checked: They don’t seem to play much baseball in Denmark.)
Others went further, declaring these findings amounted to a grand slam. The study means that Wegovy and a similar drug from Eli Lilly (Mounjaro) will easily become the “top-selling pharmaceuticals in history,” Barron’s gushed. And investors are betting they will be, too.
- Novo Nordisk gained $60 billion in market cap yesterday to close in on luxury conglomerate LVMH as Europe’s most valuable company, per Bloomberg.
- Eli Lilly also got a big boost from its bullish earnings report and the Novo Nordisk results. Shares of the world’s largest healthcare company soared 15% to a record high yesterday.
Big picture: A new class of superdrug that significantly reduces weight, cuts the risk of heart attacks, and offers numerous other unexplored benefits (like curbing addiction) could herald an exciting new era for public health.
But don’t count your chickens, etc., etc….Supply has been constrained amid a celebrity-powered frenzy for these drugs, there can be serious side effects, and the most recent study showing cardiovascular benefits hasn’t been peer-reviewed yet.—NF