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Novo Nordisk: Tresiba makes a solid start

Long-acting insulin capturing share of diabetes market
Novo Nordisk headquarters

The roll-out of Novo Nordisk's ultra-long-acting insulin Tresiba is off to an encouraging start, picking up sales of around 80m krone (around $15m) in the first quarter of the year.

Novo Nordisk has a lot riding on Tresiba (insulin degludec), which has been pitched as a key growth product for the company in the coming years. The company suffered a setback in the US last year after an FDA request for cardiovascular outcomes data delayed approval, so a strong showing in other markets is critical.

In its first-quarter results statement, Novo Nordisk notes that Tresiba is doing well in countries where it has secured reimbursement at a similar level to market leading basal insulin - Sanofi's $8bn blockbuster Lantus (insulin glargine).

Tresiba has captured between 10 and 17 per cent of the basal insulin market in these countries, measured in monthly value market share, according to the company, although it notes uptake has been "modest" in markets with restricted market access compared to Lantus.

So far, Tresiba is available in 12 countries, including Germany and Japan, with 20 more launches expected before the end of the year. Novo is in the midst of building a $100m facility in Denmark to handle the anticipated growth in Tresiba demand.

US approval sooner than expected?

Tresiba could get a boost from the results of the DEVOTE trial, a cardiovascular outcomes study involving 7,500 diabetes patients which is due to generate interim data in mid-2015, around a year earlier than expected.

Novo Nordisk chief executive Lars Rebien Sørensen said rapid recruitment into DEVOTE "enables us to shorten the timeline for the interim analysis and a potential US launch".

Overall, the company's sales grew 2 per cent in the first quarter to reach 20.3bn krone, with 4 per cent growth in modern insulins offsetting a 9 per cent drop in sales of its older human insulin range.

GLP-1 agonist Victoza (liraglutide) did fairly well in the quarter, adding 9 per cent to reach 2.92bn krone, although its growth was pegged back by a partial loss of reimbursement with a large pharmacy benefit manager in the US.

Article by
Phil Taylor

2nd May 2014

From: Sales

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