Novo’s India GGC is the secret sauce behind Ozempic’s success | India News – Times of India


BENGALURU: The secret sauce behind Novo Nordisk‘s blockbuster drug, Ozempic, is the Danish pharmaceutical company‘s India team, which played a key role in the meteoric rise of the semaglutide-based drug for treating diabetes.
The success of Ozempic and Wegovy, another semaglutide-based drug for weight management, has not only boosted Denmark’s economy but also led to Novo Nordisk’s market cap surpassing that of Tesla.
John Dawber, corporate VP and managing director of global business services at Novo Nordisk, said, “Medicalized obesity has exploded over the last couple of years, and everybody’s interested in it. But Novo Nordisk’s research journey started about two decades ago.” The company’s research into new treatments for diabetes led to the discovery of benefits of weight management, prompting a separate research programme. Dawber said the demand for these products has surprised the company.
The teams in Novo Nordisk Global Business Services (GBS) based in Bengaluru have collaborated with the global teams to contribute towards the Ozempic programme. Dawber said the Bengaluru team collaborates closely with the headquarters on the semaglutide drug, working on clinical trials, biostatistics, data management, pharmacovigilance, and global safety. Currently, it employs 4,000 employees.
Dr. Prasanna Kumar T S, VP of global safety in Novo Nordisk GBS, said the role of the biostatistics unit in Bengaluru, which conducts all statistical analysis and reporting for Ozempic. “Our trial statisticians and clinical data scientists engage with the trial squad right from protocol development until the submission of a trial/product to regulatory authorities.” Biostatistics applies statistical methods to health data.
Biostatistics, Dawber said, is a highly technical area and something that traditionally the pharma companies keep very close to the headquarters. “We have a team of 150 biostatistics experts in Bengaluru. The vice president who heads that function also heads the biostatistics team in Denmark and in the US. Something very highly technical like biostats, we have the global leadership sitting here, and they manage teams here and in other geographies,” he said.
Kumar said the global medical affairs (GMA) team played a pivotal role in the development of Semaglutide. The global medical affairs team has also been instrumental in generating evidence and understanding semaglutide through investigator-initiated studies. He said the global safety team in Bengaluru is responsible for safety monitoring of Ozempic, analyzing and reporting adverse events. They contribute to producing safety update reports, investigator brochure updates, clinical risk management plans, publications, dossiers, and manuscripts.
Novo Nordisk is hiring doctors, pharmacists, statisticians, data engineers, AI experts, and health economists in India, with plans to hire 1,400 people over the next two years. Dawber noted that the company’s attrition rates have dropped significantly, from 16% to 18% to just over 7%, indicating that most of the hiring is for new positions rather than replacements. Despite the success of Ozempic, Dawber does not expect the drug to be available in India this year or the next. “The dilemma we face is that the demand for the product currently exceeds our ability to supply, which is frustrating for us and, of course, frustrating for patients. However, we propose to manage this by carefully staging the launches, ensuring we never launch in a country and then find that the demand is too great, forcing us to stop. Such a scenario would be a huge tragedy for the patients and would damage our reputation. While India is a phenomenal market for Novo Nordisk, accounting for about 4% or 5% of our global sales and being the third biggest market in the Asia-Pacific, we will not launch in India until we can be sure that we can guarantee supply,” Dawber added.


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