Good afternoon! All eyes are on Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly once more as Wall Road appears to be like for indicators that they’ll handle one of many greatest hurdles they confronted final 12 months. Neither firm has sufficient provide to fulfill the insatiable demand for his or her weight loss and diabetes medicine.
One month into 2024, the 2 drugmakers nonetheless have not absolutely resolved these provide points. They do not anticipate to quickly. Nonetheless, Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk seem like making some encouraging progress.
Eli Lilly achieved its purpose of doubling its capability for producing injectable incretin medicine by the top of 2023, the corporate’s Chief Monetary Officer Anat Ashkenazi stated throughout an earnings call Tuesday. Incretin medicine, akin to Eli Lilly’s weight reduction therapy Zepbound and diabetes injection Mounjaro, mimic hormones produced within the intestine that suppress an individual’s urge for food and regulate blood sugar.
Ashkenazi added that Eli Lilly will attempt to enhance capability with “equal urgency” this 12 months. The corporate expects probably the most important manufacturing will increase to happen within the second half of 2024.
By that time within the 12 months, Eli Lilly expects its manufacturing of sellable doses of incretin medicine to be not less than 1.5 instances the manufacturing of these doses within the second half of final 12 months, Ashkenazi added.
Among the many firm’s efforts to increase manufacturing is its new manufacturing facility in North Carolina. Ashkenazi stated that the plant will begin producing incretin medicine as early as the top of 2024, with merchandise accessible to ship in 2025.
The corporate nonetheless expects demand for incretin medicine to outstrip provide this 12 months as it really works to extend manufacturing, Ashkenazi famous.
Eli Lilly wasn’t the one weight reduction drug producer to see constructive provide developments within the final week. Novo Nordisk did, as effectively.
Novo Holdings, which owns nearly 77% of the voting shares in Novo Nordisk, stated Monday it should purchase drug producer Catalent in a $16.5 billion deal.
Catalent is vital to Novo Nordisk as a result of it is the principle provider of fill-finish work, which includes filling and packaging syringes and injection pens, for Wegovy.
Novo Nordisk will then purchase three of Catalent’s manufacturing crops from Novo Holdings for $11 billion. Novo Nordisk stated that buy will steadily enhance its filling capability starting in 2026.
“Total, we expect it will additional unlock provide, which is the important thing bottleneck for this market,” Yuri Khodjamirian, chief funding officer at Tema ETFs, advised CNBC in response to the Catalent offers Monday. Tema in November launched an ETF whose key holdings embrace corporations benefiting from the hype round weight reduction medicine.
The deal additionally means Novo Nordisk can higher management the standard of Wegovy provide, which has beforehand been a difficulty at Catalent’s services, Khodjamirian added.
For instance, Catalent’s manufacturing unit in Brussels that fills Wegovy injection pens suffered a number of lapses in recent times and needed to shut down twice, Reuters reported in July, citing FDA inspection paperwork.
The deal comes as Novo Nordisk tries to make broader strides towards bettering provide this 12 months.
Final week, the Danish drugmaker additionally stated it had more than doubled its provide of lower-dose variations of its weight reduction injection Wegovy in January in comparison with earlier months. Provide shortages pressured Novo Nordisk to limit the provision of these decrease doses within the U.S. since Could.
However why are these decrease doses vital? It is as a result of individuals are supposed to begin Wegovy at a low dose and steadily enhance the scale over time to mitigate unwanted side effects akin to nausea. So, extra of these low “starter” doses means extra new sufferers can start therapy with Wegovy.
The corporate plans to “steadily” enhance the general provide of Wegovy all through the remainder of the 12 months, executives added on the corporate’s fourth-quarter earnings name Wednesday.
The mind as the following frontier
The implantable neurotechnology area is heating up.
Final week, Elon Musk introduced that his startup Neuralink implanted its brain-computer interface right into a human patient for the primary time. Musk stated the recipient is “recovering effectively,” in line with a post on his social media website X, however the famously secretive neurotech firm didn’t share every other particulars publicly.
Neuralink is growing a mind implant, known as a brain-computer interface, or a BCI, designed to assist sufferers with paralysis management exterior applied sciences utilizing solely their thoughts. It seems like one thing out of a science fiction film, however a number of corporations like Synchron, Precision Neuroscience, Paradromics and Blackrock Neurotech have developed programs with these capabilities.
“Think about if Stephen Hawking may talk quicker than a velocity typist or auctioneer,” Musk wrote. “That’s the purpose.”
Musk’s announcement marks a serious milestone for Neuralink, however it’s not sudden. Neuralink started recruiting patients for its first in-human medical trial within the fall after it acquired approval from the U.S. Meals and Drug Administration to conduct the examine in Could, in line with an organization blog post.
The highway to market is lengthy for medical system corporations. Neuralink must perform extra trials that show the protection and efficacy of its BCI earlier than it might probably clinch the ultimate stamp of approval from regulators.
Many competing BCI corporations like Synchron are additionally working towards bringing merchandise to market. On Thursday, Synchron announced it has acquired a minority fairness stake within the German producer Acquandas, which is able to assist the corporate ramp up manufacturing of its flagship BCI to arrange for industrial demand.
Synchron’s stent-like BCI is delivered to the mind by way of the affected person’s blood vessels. The corporate has implanted six sufferers within the U.S. and 4 sufferers in Australia to date.
“There are hundreds of thousands of individuals with paralysis who we expect are in want of this know-how, and we’re getting ready to supply in excessive volumes,” Synchron CEO Tom Oxley advised CNBC in an interview.