Novo Nordisk’s Obesity Drug May Find Place On World Health Organization’s ‘Essential Medicines List’ – Novo Nordisk (NYSE:NVO)

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Novo Nordisk's Obesity Drug May Find Place On World Health Organization's 'Essential Medicines List' - Novo Nordisk (NYSE:NVO)

For the first time World Health Organization is reportedly considering adding obesity drugs to its “essential medicines list,” used to guide government purchasing decisions in low- and middle-income countries, the U.N. agency.

A panel of advisers to the WHO will review new requests for drugs to be included next month, Reuters reported, with an updated essential medicines list due in September.

The request to consider obesity drugs were submitted by three doctors and a researcher in the U.S. covering the active ingredient liraglutide in Novo Nordisk A/S’s NVO Saxenda, which is losing exclusivity soon, allowing for cheaper generic versions, as well as make way for a newer, more powerful treatment, Wegovy, from Novo Nordisk to be recommended for low- and middle-income countries.

The panel could reject the request or wait for more evidence. “We believe it is a work in progress,” said Francesco Branca, WHO director of nutrition, at a press briefing on Wednesday, referring to the use of drugs as obesity treatments.

“At the same time, WHO is looking at the use of drugs to reduce weight … in the context of a systematic review for guidelines for children and adolescents,” he said.

Saxenda, a once-daily injection, has been shown to help people reduce 5%-10% of their body weight at $450 per month in the U.S. and $150 per month in Europe.

Wegovy, a weekly injection, costs more than $1,300 a month in the U.S. and helps people lose up to 15% of their weight. 

Eli Lilly And Co LLY has a diabetes drug, tirzepatide, which is under development for weight loss.

In October, the company said it expects to initiate a rolling submission of a new drug application for tirzepatide in adults with obesity or overweight this year.

Price Action: NVO shares are up 0.64% at $156.32 on the last check Wednesday.

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