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Novo bolstered by new diabetes, obesity products

Danish drug-maker has now raised its full-year sales forecast

Novo nordisk

Novo Nordisk’s new obesity and type 2 diabetes treatments helped to offset the decline of its insulin sales, posting a modest operating profit in the third quarter that just missed analyst expectations. 

The Danish-drugmaker reported a Q3 operating profit of Danish Kroner 12.9bn, slightly lower than analyst expectations of DKK 13.1bn, according to Reuters.

However, Novo has increased its sales growth, up to 5-6% compared to 4-6% in the last quarter, with much of that upwards trajectory dependent on its new diabetes and obesity hopefuls. It’s operating profit growth has stayed flat, remaining at 4-6%.

One key source of this growth is Ozempic (semaglutide), which the company said had ‘reach blockbuster status’, reporting sales in the third quarter of DKK 6,872m. The once-weekly injectable GLP-1 agonist has continued to offset declines of Novo’s older drugs, including the one-daily shot Victoza (liraglutide).

Despite facing tough competition from its class rivals, particularly first-to-market Trulicity (dulaglutide) from Eli Lilly, Ozempic has continued to be a source of growth for Novo.

Also helping to bolster its sales and growth is new oral semaglutide drug Rybelsus, which received approval from the FDA in the US recently. It is the first oral alternative to injectable GLP-1 agonists, and has also been touted by Novo as a potential blockbuster product.

"We are very satisfied with the sales growth for the first nine months of 2019, which was driven by all regions in International Operations and growth across our therapy areas diabetes, obesity and biopharmaceuticals," said Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen (pictured below), president and CEO of Novo Nordisk.

Lars FJ

Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen, president and CEO of Novo Nordisk

"During the third quarter of 2019, we have reached two very important milestones: the US FDA approval of Rybelsus and the blockbuster status of Ozempic following the successful launch in the USA; two major events that emphasise the strength of our current and future GLP-1 franchise,” he added.

Novo posted a 2% decrease in its insulin sales, with much of this driven by declining sales in the US. Sales of long-acting insulin also decreased by 2%, which was driven by declining Levemir sales.

Insulin prices have been a hotly-debated topic as pharma companies face pricing pressure from patient groups and government officials, particularly in the US. In September, the Danish drug-maker said it will launch a cut-price version of its insulin drug NovoLog, after facing pricing criticism.

While Novo has traditionally relied on its US insulin for much of its revenues, its new product launches have offset much of this decline, and with the new approval of Rybelsus this is likely to continue.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

1st November 2019

From: Sales

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