Weight loss pills have become popular over the past few years. People even use a drug like Ozempic, even though it is only approved for diabetes, simply because it helps them lose weight. In just the last three months of 2022, there were more than 9 million weight loss prescriptions issued in the US. In less than three years, the number of prescriptions has increased by 300%.
People flock to weight loss pills — and shares of Novo Nordisk (NVO -0.97%), the company that makes Ozempic, has also grown more than 150% in three years. But there can be one big risk with Ozempic and other similar medications, which is side effects.
Reporting of related side effects
In Canada, at the University of British Columbia, researchers concluded in an epidemiological study that Ozempic – along with other GLP-1 receptor agonists aimed at subduing a person’s appetite – may lead to an increased risk of gastroparesis. This means the flow of food in the body stops, which can cause persistent vomiting. The media also reported a higher risk of intestinal obstruction with the use of these drugs.
Other potential side effects may be associated with GLP-1 medications, including suicidal thoughts. In Europe, regulators are also concerned about whether they could increase the risk of thyroid cancer.
Of course, it’s important to remember that these drugs have been strictly approved by regulatory agencies. However, these drugs are still in a relatively early stage of development; It can be difficult to know for sure what the long-term side effects might be – and whether that is likely to deter people from using them in the future.
While clinical studies typically include thousands of people, many more people use approved drugs when they come to market. And on a larger scale, more exceptional symptoms and side effects may arise that may not have been identified as risks in clinical trials.
Another risk for Novo Nordisk
A unique risk for Novo Nordisk is simply the potential competition ahead. Depending on how their products compare to other drugs and weight loss treatments, that could significantly impact their growth potential. People will naturally want to take drugs that achieve the highest weight loss rates.
Pharmaceutical competitors Eli Lilly is working to get Mounjaro, a diabetes treatment, approved as a weight-loss drug; In clinical trials, it has been shown that it can help people lose weight even more than Wegovy and Ozempic. Pfizer is also studying danugliron, a weight-loss drug that achieves comparable results to Ozempic, albeit at a much higher dose.
Wegovy and Ozempic accounted for half of Novo Nordisk’s revenue in the first half of this year. That percentage will likely increase as the drug continues to gain popularity and as the company rolls out Wegovy to more markets. The success of both the company and the stock can certainly be tied to the success of these two drugs.
Should I buy Novo Nordisk shares?
Reports of potential side effects associated with the GLP-1 drug are causing concern, but as of now, it has not affected Novo Nordisk’s growth prospects. Since the number of prescriptions has skyrocketed, with millions of prescriptions dispensed in the United States alone, if there is a serious immediate problem with these drugs, it may now be available to many people. known.
Many people are desperate to find effective weight loss methods and the reality is that most drugs have side effects. Currently, this is not a major risk for Novo Nordisk, but it is one that investors should pay attention to as more data becomes available. Overall, Novo Nordisk remains a great growth-oriented company to invest in. This company could continue to generate strong profits over the long term.
David Jagielski has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has an opinion and recommends Pfizer. Motley Fool presents Novo Nordisk. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
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