FRANCE – Danish pharmaceutical giant Novo Nordisk has unveiled a substantial US$2.3 billion investment aimed at bolstering production capacity for its highly sought-after weight-loss and diabetes drugs at a facility in Chartres, France.
The move comes as the company grapples with surging demand for medications like Ozempic and Wegovy.
This strategic investment is set to significantly expand the production capabilities not only for existing drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy but also for other obesity treatments currently under development within the Danish drugmaker’s portfolio.
A notable aspect of this development is the escalating crisis in Europe surrounding the supply of the diabetes therapy Ozempic.
This medication shares the same key ingredient, semaglutide, with the immensely popular weight-loss drug Wegovy, which has not yet seen widespread availability in Europe.
Responding to the increased demand and off-label use of Ozempic, Novo Nordisk recently imposed restrictions on its use in the European Union.
Germany is reportedly contemplating an export ban on the drug, and Belgium has already prohibited prescriptions of the weekly injection unless they are for type 2 diabetes patients.
Despite efforts by the British government in July to restrict access to Ozempic for weight loss purposes, a Reuters report revealed that individuals without diabetes are still obtaining the medicine for this purpose.
Novo Nordisk’s US$2.3 billion investment in its Chartres facility aligns with the company’s recent commitment to enhance production capabilities, including a US$6 billion investment in its native Denmark earlier this month.
This development also holds economic significance for French President Emmanuel Macron, who reportedly influenced Novo Nordisk CEO Lars Fruergaard Jorgensen to make the investment during Macron’s “Choose France” summit earlier this year.
Novo Nordisk’s investment in Chartres mirrors a similar move by U.S. competitor Eli Lilly, which recently outlined plans to construct a US$2.5 billion manufacturing site in Germany to meet the growing demand for its new diabetes and obesity therapies.
The obesity drug market is gaining prominence, with analysts estimating its value to reach up to $100 billion by 2030.
Novo Nordisk’s investment in the French facility is geared towards augmenting its manufacturing capacity for drugs falling under the GLP-1 drug class, focusing on tasks such as filling injection pens with the active ingredient semaglutide, as well as the assembly and packaging of these injection pens.
The pharmaceutical company, which currently employs nearly 2,000 people at the Chartres factory, expects the investment to generate an additional 500 jobs. Construction has already commenced and is anticipated to conclude between 2026 and 2028, signaling a substantial commitment to meeting the burgeoning demand for Novo Nordisk’s critical medications.