US FTC seeks more information on Novo Nordisk parent-Catalent deal

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

(Reuters) -The U.S. FTC has sought more information on Novo Nordisk parent's $16.5 billion bid for contract drug manufacturer Catalent, weeks after an application to the regulator was refiled for approval of the deal.

Catalent said on Friday the companies were in the process of gathering information to respond to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission's request received on May 2.

Novo Holdings in February agreed to buy Catalent to boost output of the popular weight-loss drug Wegovy. To that end, it would sell three of Catalent's fill-finish sites to Novo Nordisk for $11 billion.

Access to the three Catalent sites would be a win for Novo Nordisk, which is gradually increasing production of Wegovy to meet explosive demand.

David Ricks, CEO of Novo's main rival in the obesity market - Eli Lilly, has said that Novo's proposal to buy the plants was "unusual" and raises potential antitrust concerns.

Lilly manufactures weight-loss drug Zepbound and related diabetes treatment Mounjaro.

Catalent and Novo Holdings, Wegovy producer's parent, continue to expect to close the deal by the end of 2024, but a refiled application for its approval in April have raised doubts that the transaction may not complete within the target period.

Novo did not disclose details about why the application was refiled.

Novo is the investment arm of Novo Nordisk's controlling shareholder, the Novo Nordisk Foundation.

(Reporting by Bhanvi Satija in Bengaluru; Editing by Shilpi Majumdar and Shinjini Ganguli)