Novo Nordisk, the lab that surpasses Danish GDP

Taken together, the figures say a lot about the share recently taken by the Danish laboratory Novo Nordisk in the wealth of its country. The pharmaceutical giant, which is celebrating its hundredth anniversary this year, has exceeded Denmark's GDP by its stock market value: 400 billion euros since September, making it the largest European market capitalization ahead of LVMH, suddenly dethroned. Denmark's GDP peaked in 2022 at 380 billion euros. According to a source at the Danish Ministry of the Economy who opened up to Echoes, Novo Nordisk represents 4% of Danish GDP and 1% of jobs in the country. The current success of the century-old nugget is a blessing for this country of barely 6 million inhabitants whose growth, despite sluggish consumption, has been more marked in recent months than among its European neighbors – 0.6% in the first quarter of 2023, compared to 0.2% on average in the European Union.

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Driven by the global success of its anti-obesity and anti-diabetic drugs, the group invested 5.6 billion euros in November in its Kalundborg factory, on the island of Sealand. Rebelote at the end of the month, with an envelope of 2.1 billion for the only site it owns in Europe outside its borders, Chartres, which motivated a trip by Emmanuel Macron on November 23. In mid-October, the company had already purchased all of the shares in the French medical technology company Biocorp, based in Puy-de-Dôme. The operation was predictable, the two companies already being partners around one of Biocorp's major products, a connected device compatible with insulin pens designed by the Danish manufacturer.

Wegovy Madness

The key to its success? Wegovy, an appetite suppressant which helps reduce obesity by 15% to 20% after one year of treatment. Marketed in the United States since 2021, it has since been extended to several European countries such as Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Germany, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, and should soon appear in French pharmacies. The global overweight market is buoyant. In a May 2022 report, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned of the dangers of obesity (which it defines by a body mass index greater than 30), responsible according to it for 1.2 million deaths per year in Europe, and estimated the number of obese European adults. According to a report from the World Obesity Federation published in March 2023, 2.6 billion people suffer from obesity worldwide, and more than half of the population will be overweight by 2035.

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A situation that is good for Novo Nordisk, but threatens to cause shortages in the United States where almost half of the adult population today is obese. According to La Tribune Sunday, sales of Wegovy have jumped more than 167% since the start of 2023, with the remedy being highlighted by personalities like Elon Musk who, on Thursday, November 16, praised the merits of appetite suppressants on X. Same risk of shortage for Ozembic, the drug for diabetics at the origin of Wegovy, although produced in much larger quantities than the latter.

Enthusiasm to be tempered

If the market fully benefits Novo Nordisk, the Danish government nevertheless has some reasons to temper its enthusiasm. According to a recent report from the Danish Chamber of Commerce, cited by The echoes, 70% of the thirteen unicorns that have emerged in Denmark since the start of the 2000s have relocated their headquarters abroad, compared to 9% in Sweden or 6% in the Netherlands. A phenomenon which would be due in particular to the very firm local migration policy, and to the scarcity of foreign talents that it generates.



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