Key diabetes drugs boost sales at Novo Nordisk

US and Europe drive sales of Type 2 diabetes treatment Victoza

Danish pharmaceutical firm Novo Nordisk saw its pre-tax profit jump 20% to DKK21.9bn (US$3.9bn; €2.9bn) in 2011.

Sales rose 9% to DKK66.34bn, driven by its key diabetes drugs Victoza, NovoRapid and Levemir.

Victoza, a GLP-1 therapy for Type 2 diabetes, saw sales reach DKK 5.99bn, mainly driven by the US and Europe, and the global rollout is continuing, with 48 countries having launched the product, most recently Oman, Thailand, Bulgaria, Belarus, Taiwan and Jordan.

In 2011, sales of modern insulins, human insulins and protein-related products in North America increased by 9% in local currencies.

Novo Nordisk said this reflected a continued ‘solid sales performance’ of NovoRapid and Levemir, offset by a decline in human insulin sales and a negative impact of approximately 5 percentage points from the US healthcare reforms in March 2010.

Around 46% of the firm’s modern insulin volume in the US is currently being sold in the prefilled FlexPen device, compared with around 43% in 2010.

Sales in Europe dipped by 1% in local currencies, with continued sales growth for modern insulins offset by a fall in insulin sales.

The growth of the insulin volume market in Europe is currently below 3%, and Novo Nordisk said full-year insulin sales have seen the negative impact of market share losses, especially in the UK, and by healthcare reforms implemented during 2010 and 2011 in a number of European markets. Currently, around 96% of Novo Nordisk’s insulin volume in Europe is being sold for use in devices.

The firm saw a 10% growth in sales in China, mainly through sales of modern insulin with the whole portfolio showing strong growth. Sales of human insulin were at the same level as in 2010, primarily as a result of healthcare reform in China during 2011.

Currently, around 96% of Novo Nordisk’s insulin volume in the region is being sold for use in devices, primarily Penfill for use in the NovoPen.

Lars Rebien Sørensen, president and chief executive of Novo Nordisk, who has extended his contract with the firm by three years to 2019, said 2011 was a very positive year for the firm.

‘In addition, we saw significant progress for our portfolio of clinical development projects, which is very encouraging for the long-term outlook,’ he said.

The group expects to file marketing authorisation in the second half of 2012 for turoctocog alfa, a haemophilia treatment, and said that regulatory reviews for the new ultra-long-acting insulins Degludec and DegludecPlus were progressing as planned.

Novo Nordisk expects sales growth in 2012 of 7–11% measured in local currencies, based on expectations of continued market penetration for its key products, as it faces continued intense competition, generic competition to oral antidiabetic products, and further healthcare reforms in the US and Europe.

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