Skincare company Galderma sees opportunity in ‘Ozempic face’

June 24, 2024

Speedy weight loss from drugs used to fight obesity and diabetes has left some users looking gaunt and aged. The boss of Swiss skincare group Galderma thinks treatments for what has been dubbed “Ozempic face” could give the company a lift, reports The Wall Street Journal.

With millions of Americans taking blockbuster drugs like Ozempic and Zepbound to slim down—and more looking to get hold of them—the side effects of the popularity of the medications are rippling through the business world.

Investors are searching for winners and losers from weight-loss—also known as GLP-1 because of the appetite-suppressing gut hormone they mimic—in sectors ranging from medical devices to food to clothing.

Galderma Chief Executive Flemming Ornskov pitches the company, which houses skincare brands Cetaphil and Alastin, as a potential beneficiary of the weight-loss boom.

“If you have that kind of weight loss, not only do you have body transformation, but you also have facial transformation and they [users] are flocking to aesthetic treatments,” Ornskov said in an interview.

One of the downsides of obesity drugs is that some users have developed what they call “Ozempic face,” an aged appearance that leaves them with saggy skin on their faces. Doctors say the changes result from speedy weight loss, and the associated reduction in facial volume, and that the drugs themselves don’t target the face.

Fillers or longer-acting biostimulators, included in some of Galderma’s products, can help counter those side effects, Ornskov says. “Weight-loss products are rapidly changing aesthetics practices,” he added.

Analysts are also bullish on the demand potential of “Ozempic face” treatments for the Swiss company. The growing use of GLP-1s could help reinvigorate growth of the fillers market over the coming years, since they can address potential sagging and aging of facial skin resulting from the use of these drugs, Jefferies analysts wrote in a note to clients.

About 3.5 million patients use GLP-1 treatments in the United States, which has boosted demand for treatments to address the slimmed-down facial volume caused by weight loss, according to UBS estimates.

A recent Gallup poll showed 6% of the U.S. adult population—an estimated 15.5 million people—tried the drugs to lose weight. The poll was based on a survey of more than 5,500 people conducted in March.

Beyond products that target GLP-1 patients looking to rejuvenate their skin, Galderma sees growth potential in “injectable aesthetics,” or skin-smoothing injections. Demand is particularly high for neuromodulators, wrinkle-relaxing injections of botulinum toxin that Galderma sells under the Dysport brand. Dysport competes with AbbVie’s Botox.

“In the [United States], we have seen most of the growth comes from injectable aesthetics,” Ornskov said. Galderma expects its injectable-aesthetics products to continue to fuel growth domestically and everywhere else, its CEO said.

“We always wanted from the beginning a three-legged stool with three very strong and independent interlinked businesses,” Ornskov said. “By having this integrated story, we probably should be adding versus subtracting to our portfolio over time.”

The company expects to bolster its therapeutic dermatology business through the launch of nemolizumab, a drug for the treatment of skin disorder prurigo nodularis and for atopic dermatitis, a common type of eczema that causes itchy skin.

Galderma filed applications for both indications with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency, and expects to launch it in the United States next year. Analysts at Bank of America estimate the drug could reach $2.1 billion in annual peak sales.

Research contact: @WSJ