Oatmeal, kayaking, millions in salary: That’s how the Wegovy king lives

Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen fits the classic image of a businessman: suit trousers, shirt, black glasses, a bald head and a smart watch on his wrist.

He is CEO of the Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk, the world’s largest producer of insulin. For a long time, however, the company has been making headlines with another product: slimming injections. The drug “Wegovy” is also available here in Germany on prescription.

Health risks for people of normal weight

It could be the start of a hype. Because Wegovy has only been over the counters in Germany since the end of July this year. However, the Noweda pharmacists’ cooperative is already reporting that the demand significantly exceeds the available quantities.

In the US, Novo Nordisk is already talking about hundreds of thousands of users. In some pharmacies in Great Britain, the drug should now even be made available without a prescription.

While that would mean more customers, it would also be risky. Because the “miracle cure” is increasingly seen as a lifestyle product and also appeals to non-obese people and people with eating disorders.

Sylvia Weiner, chief physician for obesity surgery, warned in a FOCUS online interview: “There is something wrong with the metabolism in overweight people, but not in healthy people. I would even say that you might even inject yourself with a risk of becoming overweight later.” Also, there is no data at all on how the drug works in people of normal weight.

Criticism of possible side effects

Last year, Jørgensen commented on the weight loss injection: “The most important thing is that there is finally hope for people living with obesity.” In fact, Wegovy users lose an average of 15 percent of their body weight in clinical studies.

But there are side effects. According to Prescribing Information, 44 percent of patients who injected Wegovy weekly experienced nausea and 30 percent experienced vomiting. In addition, CNN recently reported speculation that the drug could cause suicidal thoughts and gastric paralysis.

Jørgensen replied in the CNN interview: “Of course we have to take a closer look, but so far there are no indicators that point to any particular safety concerns.”

Wegovy belongs to a class of drugs called GLP-1 agonists, which were originally developed to treat type 2 diabetes, but are also believed to be effective in weight management.

Loyal to the same company for 30 years

As the head of the company, by a huge demand profits, Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen earns an impressive annual salary of almost 8.1 million euros (including variable remuneration in the form of company shares).

The CEO has worked his way up to his position. Jørgensen has been with Novo Nordisk for over 30 years. In 1991 he started his first job here after graduating.

He got to know Jørgensen’s wife Lotte right from the start when he was with the company: “It was a great package. I got the job and got to know my wife at the same time,” recalls the pharmaceutical boss in an interview with the British newspaper.TheTimes“.

From the farm to the house by the lake

Jørgensen grew up on a farm where his parents raised cattle and pigs. He and his three sisters helped out there on weekends and during the school holidays.

The rural proximity still seems to be important to him today: The CEO lives in a green suburb of Copenhagen near the lake and also owns a summer house on the coast of Denmark. He often spends holidays here with his wife and two adult children.

Lotte gives occasional insights into family life on Facebook, such as in 2017 when the family spent their vacation in Tuscany. In one photo you can see the CEO in short cargo shorts and a T-shirt having a leisurely breakfast with his two children in nature, with a view of the forest and grapevines.

The eating habits of a pharmaceutical boss

The pharmaceutical boss has a very special preference for his breakfast, as he revealed in an interview with The Times last year: “A bowl of overnight oats”. For the non-Gen-Zers, this is oatmeal mixed with milk or water and left overnight.

The day goes on just as healthy. There was always rye bread and herring for lunch, and something “similarly healthy” in the evening.

Health seems to be close to Jørgensen’s heart, both professionally and personally. Since 2020 smoking is prohibited on the premises of Novo Nordisk. “I want to have a healthy workforce,” the CEO told the British newspaper.

Jørgensen himself has no need for Wegovy

Even if his company is making a name for itself with weight loss medication, there is little need for action by the CEO when it comes to weight problems. Because the man who sells the weight loss injection himself attaches great importance to a healthy lifestyle.

Sports activities are important to him: kayaking on the lake, tennis with his wife, gardening and cycling. And not just for physical health: “Most days I do at least a little sport, it gives me energy and clears my head,” explains the Novo Nordisk boss in the “The Times” interview.

For Jørgensen, the increase in obesity depends primarily on people’s lifestyles. So you moved a lot more in your childhood than you do today.

“I remember riding my bike to school in the morning. I do feel guilty because I often drove my children in the car,” the company boss told Reuters last month.

How the CEO makes better decisions

He also gave the “Times” an insight into his everyday life as managing director. And it looks similar to that of “ordinary people”. It usually begins at half past six when the alarm clock rings and ends with dinner together with his wife.

On a typical working day, he is busy from around 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., finishing with a quick e-mail check after dinner. To keep his head as clear as possible as CEO, Jørgensen uses a tried and tested trick – breaks.

“In general, I try to take breaks to think more often. On days when I’m not so busy, I make better decisions.” And that’s not entirely unimportant when running a $400 billion company.

Hank Peter

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