Novo Nordisk Shrugs off Eye Concerns Regarding Weight Loss Drug

Novo Nordisk (NYSE:NVO) investors appeared unperturbed Thursday by a critical Harvard report that linked weight loss drugs to a rare eye condition.

Semaglutide, which is present in weight loss drugs including Novo Nordisk’s Ozempic and Wegovy, might be associated with an increased risk of a rare eye disease, according to a study carried out by Harvard Medical School.

Analysts said the study results were “hardly a game-changer,” however. Shares in the Danish pharmaceutical company’s shares were little changed on Thursday, dipping in early morning trade before rising 0.1% as of 11:17 a.m. London time.

The Harvard report found that patients with type 2 diabetes or obesity, who are prescribed semaglutide, have an increased risk of nonarteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION) — a condition which can lead to loss of vision in one eye. Patients were more likely to be diagnosed with the eye condition compared to patients who were not prescribed the weight loss drugs, the study found.

While the research paper does suggest “some correlation” with a rare ocular event, the quality of the evidence is “vey low, the error bars are very wide,” according to Deutsche Bank analyst Emmanuel Papadakis.
The worst case scenario would likely be a further update to the label warning section of the drugs, which is “hardly a game-changer,” said Papadakis.

He added that Deutsche Bank generally regards semaglutide medications as “one of the most derisked therapeutic classes in industry history from a safety perspective.”

NVO shares captured $2.04, or 1.5%, to $140.91.

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