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Pharma Stocks Update: Novo Nordisk’s Ozempic Shines

Plus500 | Thursday 12 October 2023

The pharmaceutical sector has been making a notable buzz lately especially in relation to Novo Nordisk’s Ozempic drug. 

So, what precisely is causing this buzz, and what potential implications might this drug have for both the pharmaceutical sector and the broader markets? Here’s what you need to know:

Pharma stocks logo on a building

What Is Novo Nordisk?

Novo Nordisk (NOVO-B.CO) is a Danish, Bagsværd-based, pharmaceutical company, that’s known for its diabetes drugs and devices. 

The company has 16 production sites in nine countries, including, Denmark, Brazil, Algeria, France, China, Japan, the US, and Russia, and over 59k employees worldwide. In addition, it has 10 R&D centers across the US, China, the UK, and Denmark.

What Is Ozempic?

Ozempic is a drug manufactured by Novo Nordisk, used to treat diabetes, and was granted initial approval by the FDA in 2017. A few years later, in 2021, the FDA authorized another drug, featuring a higher concentration of Ozempic's active ingredient, Semaglutide. 

This medication was marketed as Wegovy and is specifically intended for the treatment of obesity. The administration of both drugs involves an injection (once a week) into either the stomach, arm, or thigh.

Furthermore, interestingly, both Ozempic and Wegovy seem to have gained traction from celebrities in the past couple of months. When asked about his “fit” physique, Tesla (TSLA) CEO, Elon Musk, for example, attributed it to Wegovy. These drugs also made headlines on TikTok a few months back as the hashtag “#Ozempic” was trending with over 200 million views.

How Can Ozempic Possibly Affect the Markets?

One of the possible effects of Ozempic and other diabetes drugs is that it has the potential to diminish individuals' inclination to consume alcohol and “their obsessive thinking about food.”

This, in turn, has led many Wall Street analysts and market participants to hold a bearish stance regarding restaurant stocks as the impact of drugs like Ozempic is believed to be extending beyond the healthcare sector.

In addition, many believe that such drugs, which can reduce appetite, could also negatively impact discretionary consumer spending.

Consequently, as a result of the potential impacts of weight-loss drugs on food chains, combined with elevated interest rates, short positions on restaurant stocks such as McDonald’s (MCD) and Starbucks (SBUX) have been on the rise lately.

Just last week, retail giant Walmart (WMT) acknowledged that the influence of these drugs, along with other appetite-suppressing medications, on grocery demand and consumer spending is already evident.

Since the beginning of the month up until the time of the writing, McDonald’s lost 2.7% while Starbucks rose slightly by 0.8%. It remains uncertain whether the possible effects of these drugs will indeed exert further pressure on restaurant and food chain stocks.

What Has Been Shifting Novo Nordisk’s Stock Recently?

It seems that the hype surrounding weight-loss drugs like Novo Nordisk’s Ozempic and Wegovy has “helped push Danish Novo to become Europe’s most valuable company.” Back in August, Novo’s CEO, Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen, even stated that the company is “serving more patients than ever before.”

Moreover, possibly adding to the pharma sector’s positive outlook is the fact that the weight-loss drugs market is predicted to hit $100 billion by the year 2035. (Source: Yahoo Finance)

In addition to the “weight loss drug boom,” traders and analysts alike may want to note that Novo has been working to prove that Ozempic can reduce kidney failure and cardiovascular risks and issues.

Consequently, a study was initiated with anticipated results slated for reporting in 2024. Nevertheless, an independent data monitoring committee, upon observing interim analysis indicating the drug had achieved its efficacy goal, recommended terminating the study earlier.

In line with this recommendation, Novo disclosed late Tuesday that it would cease the study. This development is perceived as a setback for dialysis firms such as Fresenius Medical Care (FME.DE), Davita Healthcare Partners (DVA), and Baxter International Inc. (BAX) which dropped in response.

Nonetheless, while numerous companies, spanning from dialysis providers to restaurants, have faced challenges due to developments in diabetes and weight loss drugs, Novo has experienced significant advantages. From the start of the year until the time of the writing, Novo has grown by 47.4%, but whether it will be able to sustain this positive uptrend is yet to be seen.

Novo Nordisk stock price since the beginning of 2023 up until 12 October 2023

Conclusion

To sum up, the recent spotlight on Novo Nordisk's Ozempic and Wegovy weight-loss drugs has catapulted the Danish pharmaceutical giant to Europe's most valuable company. 

The heightened interest in these drugs, fueled by endorsements from prominent figures like Musk and trends on platforms like TikTok, has sparked discussions about their wider implications. 

As the pharmaceutical sector continues to evolve, traders may want to monitor upcoming developments to gauge the potential escalation of these trends.


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