A pharmacist displays boxes of Ozempic, a semaglutide injection drug used for treating type 2 diabetes made by Novo Nordisk, at Rock Canyon Pharmacy in Provo, Utah, on March 29, 2023.
George Frey | Reuters
Eli Lilly on Thursday said supply of its blockbuster diabetes drug Mounjaro has improved in the U.S. after months of widespread shortages.
However, the pharmaceutical giant noted that it is still working to increase production capacity for the treatment and other drugs amid increased demand.
The remarks suggest that Eli Lilly’s initial efforts to expand manufacturing capacity for Mounjaro are starting to pay off. Demand for the treatment is soaring, largely due to its off-label ability to cause significant weight loss. U.S. regulators could potentially approve the drug for weight loss this year, which could push up demand even more.
During an earnings call Thursday, Eli Lilly executives said the company experienced tight supply for Mounjaro throughout most of the third quarter. Mounjaro raked in $1.4 billion in sales for the quarter, helping the company beat expectations on both the top and bottom lines.
But U.S. product shipments of Mounjaro have recently increased, and inventory levels at U.S. drug wholesalers have improved, according to Eli Lilly Chief Financial Officer Anat Ashkenazi.
She noted that all doses of Mounjaro are now listed as available on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s shortage database. Meanwhile, Mounjaro supply remains tight internationally, Ashkenazi added.
Eli Lilly is on track to achieve its goal of doubling production capacity for drugs such as Mounjaro and its other diabetes treatment Trulicity, Ashkenazi said. Both drugs work by mimicking hormones produced in the gut called incretins to suppress a person’s appetite and regulate blood sugar.
Ashkenazi pointed to the company’s new facility in North Carolina, which is now “online” to provide additional drug assembly capacity. Eli Lilly has also invested more than $3 billion to build two new manufacturing sites in its home state of Indiana.
But Eli Lilly CEO David Ricks said during the earnings call that the company is still “aggressively planning” further production buildup for Mounjaro and other drugs.
He noted that the company has been inking third-party manufacturing agreements with a “diverse portfolio” of contractors, with Eli Lilly “buying up as much capacity as available” in their systems.
“This is really all-hands-on-deck,” Ricks said. “It’s a problem we work on every day. So we’re not at all happy with the capacity.”
Eli Lilly’s main rival in the weight loss drug space, Novo Nordisk, is still navigating its own supply constraints of diabetes drug Ozempic and obesity treatment Wegovy.
Ozempic and Wegovy sparked the weight loss industry gold rush last year, pushing Eli Lilly and other companies such as Pfizer to ramp up their investments in the space.
Initial studies have suggested that Eli Lilly’s Mounjaro may be even more effective at reducing weight than Wegovy and Ozempic.
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