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Novo Nordisk plans $2bn expansion of its diabetes facilities

Comes as the Danish firm prepares to move oral semaglutideinto phase III trials
Novo Nordisk

Novo Nordisk is to invest around $2bn over the next five years to expand production facilities for its diabetes portfolio at sites in the US and Denmark.

One of the key products the Danish firm is expecting increased demand for is semaglutide, a next generation, once-daily, oral GLP-1 analogue for type 2 diabetes that will enter phase III trials in early 2016.

The expansion will occur at two facilities primarily in Clayton, North Carolina where the company will create 700 jobs and produce the active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) of its diabetes medications. Expansion will also occur in Denmark, creating another 100 jobs.

Henris Wulff, executive VP and head of product supply at Novo Nordisk, said: “With the new plant in Clayton and continuous investments in our current API production plants in Kalundborg, Denmark, we will have sufficient API capacity for diabetes products well into the next decade.”

Novo Nordisk recently supplanted Sanofi as the world's biggest seller of diabetes medicines generating $11.3bn in sales last year alone, representing a growth of 8% from 2013.

However, the company was left disappointed just this week when studies found that adding Victoza (liraglutide) to insulin therapy in type 1 diabetics actually worsened episodes of low blood sugar thereby denying any extension of its use.

Novo is therefore placing much of its hopes on its long-acting oral semaglutide, which will be tested in seven trials, named PIONEER, involving 8,000 people with type 2 diabetes.

The first trial will investigate the efficacy and safety of once-daily oral semaglutide doses of 3mg, 7mg, and 14mg compared to once-daily 100mg sitagliptin - the active ingredient in Merck's Januvia.

Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen, chief science officer of Novo, said: “Delivering protein-based medicine like semaglutide in the form of a tablet and producing it on a large scale is a major challenge and with the announcement [of the trials] today, we have reached a significant milestone towards achieving that goal.”

Article by
Nikhil Patel

27th August 2015

From: Research

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