General Industry Update

Developments in the pharmaceutical industry continue to be dominated by the power and value of weight loss medications. Analysts predict a substantial rise in the number of adults using obesity medications by 2030, with the market potentially reaching $100 billion by the decade’s end.

While the popularity of these drugs has led to supply challenges, Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly are making significant strides in ramping up production. They are investing in expanded production capacity to address intermittent shortages, aiming to maintain their market leadership amid growing competition from smaller players entering the obesity drug market.

Eli Lilly announced the establishment of a new plant in Concord, North Carolina, set to commence production by year-end, with shipments expected in 2025. Additionally, the company plans to construct several other facilities in the coming years, including a $2.5 billion manufacturing site in Germany and two production facilities in Indiana. Similarly, Novo Nordisk unveiled plans to invest $6 billion to expand manufacturing sites in Denmark, with construction scheduled from 2025 to 2029. Moreover, the company intends to allocate approximately $2.3 billion to construct another production facility in France. These significant investments underscore both companies’ commitment to enhancing drug supply to meet growing demand.¹

Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk have seen a surge in their shares due to the success of their weight-loss drugs, elevating them to levels comparable to high-growth tech stocks. Eli Lilly surpassed Tesla in market value in January, becoming the ninth-largest U.S.-listed company, while Novo Nordisk outpaced luxury retailer LVMH as the most valuable European company last year and is now Europe’s largest firm by market capitalization.²

Norway’s wealth fund suggested in February that both companies could become the first in the healthcare sector to join the trillion-dollar club, considering the immense potential market of billions of people worldwide living with obesity, only a tiny fraction of whom have been treated with these drugs so far.

Novo Nordisk reported stronger-than-expected earnings for 2023, driven by robust sales of Wegovy, pushing its market valuation above $500 billion. Eli Lilly, the world’s largest pharmaceutical company by market value, stands at approximately $612 billion.³

Company Specific Updates

AbbVie Inc

AbbVie Inc. raised its 2024 forecasts due to strong growth in newer anti-inflammatory drugs, countering declining sales of its top drug, Humira. CEO Richard Gonzalez expressed confidence in AbbVie’s ability to manage the decline of Humira and achieve modest revenue growth. The company is relying on Skyrizi and Rinvoq to mitigate the impact. Both drugs surpassed expectations in Q4, leading AbbVie to increase its 2027 sales forecast for them to $27 billion.

Source: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

Recent deals with ImmunoGen Inc. and Cerevel Therapeutics aim to bolster AbbVie’s treatment pipeline for future success. This includes antibody-drug conjugates for cancer treatment and potential therapies for schizophrenia, Parkinson’s, and mood disorders, with AbbVie anticipating these treatments to revolutionize psychiatric and neurological care standards.⁴

Novo Nordisk A/S

Novo Nordisk A/S announced that the European Medicines Agency will decide in April on its request to expand the use of weight-loss drug Wegovy to treat heart attack and stroke risks in overweight individuals. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted priority review for this request after August findings showed Wegovy cut the risk of heart attack and stroke by 20% in overweight people with heart disease history. Such approvals could increase the willingness of insurers and governments to cover the drug.⁵

Source: Novo Nordisk

With the demand for Wegovy top of mind, Novo Nordisk and its parent company, Novo Holdings, unveiled a deal worth $16.5 billion to acquire Catalent, Wegovy’s primary fill-finish work supplier. Novo Nordisk will purchase three Catalent manufacturing sites for $11 billion, boosting its production capacity from 2026. Analysts suggest the Catalent deal may expedite production more efficiently than building new facilities or adding production lines, which Novo Nordisk is also considering.⁶

LIFE ETF: Investing in Global Healthcare

Investing in ETFs can be one way to add cutting-edge healthcare to your portfolio.

Evolve Global Healthcare Enhanced Yield Fund (LIFE ETF) provides investors with exposure to twenty global blue-chip companies in the healthcare industry, with a covered call strategy that is actively managed to provide increased yield potential while helping mitigate risk. For more information about the Evolve Global Healthcare Enhanced Yield Fund or any of Evolve ETF’s lineup of exchange-traded funds, please visit our website or contact us.

Portfolio Strategy and Activity

For the month, Eli Lilly & Co made the largest contribution to the Fund, followed by AbbVie Inc and Danaher Corp. The largest detractors to performance for the month were Amgen Inc, followed by Gilead Sciences and Roche Holding AG.



  1. Constantino, A.K., “Weight loss drugs are still hard to find — but Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly are trying to change that,” CNBC, February 10, 2024;
  2. Singh, M. & Mishra, M., “Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk get growth stock status on weight-loss drug boost,” Reuters, February 20, 2024;
  3. Meredith, S., “Norway’s giant wealth fund touts possibility of Novo Nordisk, Eli Lilly joining the trillion-dollar club,” CNBC, January 31, 2024;
  4. Muller, M., “AbbVie Sees Post-Humira Growth Signs in 2024 Outlook,” Bloomberg, February 2, 2024;
  5. Roach, A., “EU Regulator Set to Decide on Wegovy’s Heart Benefits in April,” Bloomberg, February 22, 2024;
  6. Fick, M. & Wingrove, P., “Novo Nordisk’s parent to buy Catalent for $16.5 bln to boost Wegovy supply,” Reuters, February 5, 2024;

Header image source: Getty Images Credit: JW LTD

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Tags abbvie inc.  eli lilly  LIFE ETF  Novo Nordisk  obesity medications  Wegovy  weight loss medications