Exclusive-Catalent’s Indiana plant to make Novo’s Wegovy weight-loss drug-sources

By Maggie Fick

LONDON (Reuters) – Catalent’s plant in Bloomington, Indiana, will fill injection pens for Novo Nordisk’s weight-loss drug Wegovy as part of the two companies’ expanded supply agreement, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The sources declined to be named because the information is confidential.

Novo and Catalent declined to comment.

Novo is spending billions of dollars to make more of its obesity drug amid sky-rocketing demand, particularly in the United States.

Wegovy is the first-to-market in a new class of highly effective weight-loss drugs. Used alongside changes to diet and exercise, it leads to an average weight loss of around 15%.

Novo’s CEO Lars Fruergaard Jorgensen said at a Reuters Newsmaker event on Friday that the company hoped to have a third external facility filling and finishing the Wegovy injection pens by 2024.

The first facility is Catalent’s factory in Brussels. Reuters reported this week that the second facility is Thermo Fisher’s factory in Greenville, North Carolina.

Since its launch in June 2021, Wegovy has been flying off the shelves in the United States, where more than 40% of the population is obese.

But Novo has struggled to keep up with demand even as it has added production capacity, in part because of problems Catalent has had at the Brussels plant.

Reuters reported in July that Catalent’s Brussels factory had repeatedly breached U.S. sterile-safety rules in recent years and staff had failed to perform required quality checks.

When asked on Friday about Catalent’s issues, Jorgensen said he was confident the company would resolve its problems.

U.S-based Catalent, one of the world’s largest contract manufacturers, made a huge windfall during the COVID-19 pandemic as it was contracted to help make vaccines by several companies.

But the company faces a range of problems. COVID-vaccine revenue has fallen and its costs have increased due to corrective actions to address quality control lapses identified during inspections by U.S. drug regulators at three plants.

Its stock has fallen about 57% since late August 2022.

Catalent is also in the spotlight because activist investor Elliott was reported last month to have taken a stake in the company.

(Reporting by Maggie Fick; Additional reporting by Bhanvi Satija in Bengalaru; Editing by Josephine Mason and Mark Potter)