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Novo’s Catalent deal is great for GLP-1s. But what about drug manufacturing?

Sixteen billion dollars is a lot of money. But Monday’s announcement that the parent company of Novo Nordisk, the maker of the weight loss drug Wegovy, plans to buy Catalent, a company to which drugmakers outsource manufacturing, is probably even more important than it seems.

The deal, done in part so that Novo can rapidly ramp up its ability to manufacture Wegovy, is a massive statement of optimism about the sales potential of that medication and weight loss drugs like it, known as GLP-1s. The medicines have become ubiquitous everywhere from TikTok to Wall Street, and Novo is willing to spend money hand over fist to keep up with rising demand.

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But the planned purchase probably tells us something larger about how the pharmaceutical industry manufactures drugs, a topic that might seem dry and academic but that has had an impact on everything from sales of GLP-1 medicines to the ability of companies to make vaccines during the pandemic.

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