Novo plunks down $100M to ready plant for new-generation insulins

Novo Nordisk's manufacturing site in Kalundborg, Denmark, employs nearly 3,500 workers and consists of 14 factories. (Novo Nordisk)(Novo Nordisk Kalundborg)

Novo Nordisk this last week reached an agreement that will hold off generic competition to its newer diabetes drugs for another five years. With that in the bag, it can now focus on next-generation products and so is investing nearly $100 million in its massive site in Denmark to make them.

The drugmaker said today it will spend DKK 650 million ($97.8 million) to upgrade and expand facilities at its production site in Kalundborg, Denmark. Novo has long touted that site, which consists of 14 factories and employs nearly 3,500 workers, as producing 50% of the world's insulin, as well as a range of biopharmaceutical products.

"Since the turn of the millennium alone, Novo Nordisk has invested more than DKK 15 billion ($2.3 billion) in Kalundborg, which is a cornerstone of the company's global production network", Michael Hallgren, SVP for Novo Nordisk production in Kalundborg, said in a statement.

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The company said the facilities being upgraded manufacture a range of products for diabetes treatment and will be “rebuilt to allow for future production of the next generation of products.” The projects are expected to be completed in 2020.

The news comes only days after Novo brokered a patent settlement with Teva Pharmaceuticals so that the Israel-based generics maker will not launch copies of Novo’s highly successful Victoza products until the end of 2023, or until June 25 if Novo wins pediatric exclusivity from the FDA.

That should be enough time for Novo to build market acceptance for its weekly GLP-1 drug Ozempic, approved in late 2017 as a follow-up to the daily Victoza, as well as a forthcoming oral version of the same drug.