Supply of Eli Lilly’s diabetes drug Mounjaro is improving in the United States

A pharmacist displays boxes of Ozempic, a semaglutide injection drug manufactured by Novo Nordisk to treat type 2 diabetes, at Rock Canyon Pharmacy on March 29, 2023 in Provo, Utah.

George Frey | Reuters

Eli Lilly said Thursday that supplies of its blockbuster diabetes drug Mounjaro have 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 given the increased demand.

The comments suggest that Eli Lilly’s initial efforts to expand production capacity for Mounjaro are beginning to pay off. Demand for the treatment is increasing rapidly, primarily due to its off-label ability to produce significant weight loss. U.S. regulators could potentially approve the weight-loss drug as soon as this year, which could boost demand even further.

During an earnings call on Thursday, Eli Lilly executives said the company struggled with a tight supply of Mounjaro through most of the third quarter. Mounjaro posted revenue of $1.4 billion in the quarter, helping the company beat expectations in both revenue and profit.

However, according to Anat Ashkenazi, Eli Lilly’s chief financial officer, Mounjaro’s product shipments in the U.S. have increased recently and inventories at U.S. drug wholesalers have improved.

She noted that all doses of Mounjaro are now listed as available in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s shortage database. Meanwhile, the supply of Mounjaro remains tight internationally, Ashkenazi added.

Eli Lilly is on track to meet its goal of doubling production capacity for drugs like Mounjaro and its other diabetes drug 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 manufacturing capacity. Eli Lilly has also more than invested $3 billion for construction two new production sites in the home state of Indiana.

However, Eli Lilly CEO David Ricks said during the earnings call that the company is still “aggressively” planning to further build production for Mounjaro and other drugs.

He noted that the company entered into third-party manufacturing contracts with a “diverse portfolio” of contractors, with Eli Lilly “purchasing as much capacity as was available in their systems.”

“This is really about all hands on deck,” Ricks said. “It’s a problem we work on every day. That’s why we are not at all satisfied with the capacity.”

Eli Lilly’s main competitor in the field of weight loss drugs, Novo Nordiskis still struggling with its own supply shortages for the diabetes drug Ozempic and the obesity drug Wegovy.

Ozempic and Wegovy sparked the weight loss industry gold rush last year, pushing Eli Lilly and other companies like them Pfizer to increase their investments in this area.

Early studies suggest that Eli Lilly’s Mounjaro may be even more effective than Wegovy and Ozempic for weight loss.

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