EU watchdog looking into impact on drug availability from Catalent-Novo deal

FILE PHOTO: View of the drug product manufacturing laboratory in biologics and sterile injectables, Catalent, in Brussels

By Ludwig Burger

FRANKFURT (Reuters) -The European Union's drugs regulator said on Wednesday it will investigate any risks to the availability of medicines processed at Catalent sites that will be sold to Novo Nordisk, part of its mandate to prevent drug shortages.

The European Medicines Agency told Reuters in a statement that its Medicine Shortages Single Point of Contact (SPOC) Working Party will liaise with member states to gather data on the products manufactured at the sites.

It will "assess the possible impact on the availability of these medicines", it added. It did not provide the names of the drugs in question.

Novo Nordisk on Monday moved to boost output of its popular obesity drug Wegovy as its parent holding struck a deal to buy Catalent, a key contract manufacturer of the product, for $16.5 billion.

Nested in that deal was the sale of three of Catalent's fill-finish sites - in Anagni, Italy; Brussels, Belgium; and Bloomington, Indiana - to Novo Nordisk for $11 billion.

Eli Lilly, Novo's main rival in the obesity and diabetes drug market, said some its products were being processed at sites affected by the deal.

Lilly finance chief Anaz Ashkenazi told investors on Wednesday the company will hold Catalent accountable to their contract, as it seeks more information about the deal, while CEO David Ricks told the Financial Times that the transfer of the three plants raises possible antitrust concerns.

(Reporting by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)