Novo Nordisk picks diabetes-ridden Mexico for first Ryzodeg launch

Mexico is high on Novo Nordisk's priority list. Earlier this year, the company said it would target the country as its next market for an obesity-fighting formula of liraglutide, sold for diabetes as Victoza. Now, the company has picked Mexico for its first launch of Ryzodeg, a brand-new combo diabetes treatment.

Ryzodeg comprises Novo's ($NVO) fast-acting insulin aspart, sold as NovoLog on its own, with its new long-acting treatment Tresiba. The two drugs are delivered via a combination injector, and Novo says it's the first combination of a long-acting basal insulin and a mealtime insulin in one pen.

Both Tresiba and its combination partner have been approved in Europe, but Novo hasn't launched Ryzodeg there yet. Neither has yet been approved in the U.S., which sent Novo back to the drawing board for a safety study on Tresiba.

Mexico is a huge potential market for Novo and other diabetes drugmakers, with 8.7 million Mexicans now living with the disease. Obesity is rampant there, with almost one-third of adults obese and an estimated 7 in 10 overweight. In fact, last year Mexico unseated the U.S. as the fattest country in the world.

No wonder, then, that Novo hopes to launch its obesity-fighting version of liraglutide there. Up for approval in the U.S. later this year, the drug could win access to the Mexican market early next. Analysts have said that adding obesity to the list of liraglutide's uses could add as much as $1 billion to the franchise's sales, provided the company can persuade doctors and payers who've been skeptical of weight-loss drugs in the past.

Meanwhile, the company is tightly focused on getting its follow-up Tresiba study done and finally winning FDA approval. Last month, Novo said it was ahead of schedule on that trial, dubbed DEVOTE. If early results are positive, Novo could reapply for U.S. approval of Tresiba and Ryzodeg as early as the first half of next year. That would put it in line for a launch in 2016.

- see the release from Novo

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