Novo Nordisk, facing more pressure than ever in the U.S., is revving up for a push into Latin America with its obesity drug Saxenda, hoping to put already-promising sales into a higher gear.
Head of International Operations Maziar Mike Doustdar told reporters the drugmaker plans to expand its capacity in Latin America and step up its efforts in the obesity market there, according to Reuters. The Danish drugmaker sees a particular opportunity in Mexico, he said.
"Latin America is where we have started the launches of Saxenda before some of the other markets and have seen a phenomenal success to it," Doustdar said (as quoted by the news service). Saxenda generated sales of $81 million for the first quarter, including $10.5 million in Latin America.
Novo first launched Saxenda in 2015 in an effort to diversify beyond diabetes, a business that has had trouble growing lately due to competitive pressures in the U.S. The Danish drugmaker rolled its obesity shot out at $1,000 per month and said it has “blockbuster potential.” In Latin America, Doustdar said he believes Novo can expand the entire obesity market as well as capture a share of it with Saxenda.
To support the launch in the U.S., the drugmaker deployed 500 sales reps, hoping to build on existing relationships with doctors who treat diabetes patients. Saxenda is a reformulated version of Novo’s blockbuster diabetes drug Victoza. The U.S. remained the largest market for the med at 70% of sales for the first quarter.
The push into Latin America with the obesity business comes shortly after CEO Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen said Novo is “operating in a more uncertain environment” thanks to U.S. politics. With that and other factors considered, the company put out full-year 2017 guidance earlier this year that included a sales decline at the low end in constant currencies.
Last week, Novo announced that Saxenda can help early responders maintain their weight loss and continue to lose weight. Investigator Sean Wharton at the Wharton Medical Clinic called the post hoc analysis “very encouraging.”