Drug: Victoza
Company: Novo Nordisk
Use: Type 2 diabetes
Amount spent on doctor payments: $9 million

With more competition in the GLP-1 market, it's more important than ever for Novo Nordisk ($NVO) to make sure doctors see Victoza as different from the pack. In 2014, the company charted promising numbers for its blockbuster drug, grabbing 72% of the market in the U.S., up from 69% at the end of 2013.

But Novo is not content to sit back with the status quo; Deputy CEO Kåre Schultz predicted that the company's annual revenues will double within the next decade and that by 2020, 40 million diabetes patients will be using Novo's products. Part of that equation involves expanding the label of company's GLP-1 drug liraglutide, sold as Victoza for diabetes, to include obesity. During the last 5 months of 2013, Novo spent $9 million in doctor payments for the drug.

In the meantime, the drug faces some stiff competition from Eli Lilly's ($LLY) Trulicity, AstraZeneca's ($AZN) short-acting Byetta and long-acting Bydureon, and GlaxoSmithKline's ($GSK) Tanzeum. Lilly's once-weekly GLP-1 treatment could pose the most threat, as analysts predict the med could grab one-third of the GLP-1 business, leaving Novo to split the rest with AstraZeneca and GSK's med bringing up the rear. But Lilly maintains--and Novo hopes--that Trulicity would catalyze growth for the whole class of drugs rather than gobbling up Victoza's market share.

Novo is also countering pricing pressures for the drug, as Express Scripts ($ESRX) announced in 2013 that it would remove Victoza from its national formulary in 2014. But the drug still posted 20% growth in North America for the first 9 months of the year. -- Emily Wasserman (email | Twitter)

For more:
Special Report: The top 10 best-selling diabetes drugs of 2013 - Victoza
How much for docs speaking on Eliquis, Xarelto and Pradaxa? $20M and counting
Novo Nordisk quells diabetes pricing fears with 2015 growth forecast
Novo Nordisk recruiting 400 U.S. sales reps as growth decelerates


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