Novo expects to keep pumping out growth in insulin market

Novo Nordisk ($NVO), the world leader in insulin products, took a big hit this year when the FDA denied approval of its newest long-lasting insulin drug, Tresiba. But Lars Rebien Sørensen, CEO of the Denmark-based drugmaker, is taking every opportunity to let the markets know that Novo has lots of growth in its business.

Novo CEO Lars Rebien Sørensen

The drugmaker already has 27% of the world market for diabetes care and has been growing its revenues by an average of 13% a year over the last decade. Sørensen tells Reuters he expects its operating profit to expand by 15% per year. Most of that growth will come by targeting emerging markets like China and the 140 countries in the so-called International Operations region outside of Europe, China, Japan, Korea and North America.

The U.S., where the insulin maker has been able to grow its market share in recent years to 29%, will be a bit of a problem. He expects growth to continue but at a slower rate. "Growth in United States, all uncertainties taking into considerations, is likely to go down a little bit to between 15 and 20 percent," Sørensen told the news service.

One reason is that Novo is seeing slower growth in sales for its powerhouse diabetes drug Victoza. In the last quarter, it slowed to 14% from the 20%-plus seen earlier in the year. But long term, Novo thinks it will see significant growth in the U.S. as well. It does make up about half the world market for diabetes care.

In fact, the company is hiring 400 new sales reps to boost its share in the U.S. It is pinning that expansion on future prospects. After consultations with the FDA, the company started a new outcomes trial in October for its diabetes hopeful Tresiba. It also expects to file for a new FDA-approved indication on Victoza at the end of the year. "It seems prudent to expand the sales force now and build the capabilities of that sales force," CFO Jesper Brandgaard told FiercePharma recently.

And the company has lots in the pipeline and more to come. It has said it is prepared to spend upward of $3.7 billion to lay the groundwork for new oral diabetes therapies and next-generation approaches, even as it defends its growing franchise for Victoza. "I believe we have never had as strong a pipeline as we have right now," Sørensen said.

- read the Reuters story

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