Novo Nordisk has posted a solid set of figures for 2009, and says that the launch of its much-touted diabetes drug Victoza in Europe has been going very well.

Net profit climbed 12% to 10.77 billion kroner (about $2.02 billion), while sales were also up 12% to 51.08 billion kroner, with turnover at Novo's diabetes division rising 12% to 37.50 billion kroner. The firm's stable of modern insulin products, including Levemir (insulin detemir) and NovoRapid (insulin aspart) contributed 21.47 billion kroner, an increase of 24%. Human insulins slipped 4% to 11.31 billion kroner, although oral antidiabetic products, notably NovoNorm/Prandin (repaglinide), were were up 11% to 2.65 billion kroner.

Among the major products in Novo's biopharmaceuticals business, sales of which climbed 11% to 13.58 billion kroner. NovoSeven (recombinant Factor VIIa) was up 11% to 7.07 billion kroner, while the growth hormone Norditropin increased 14% to 4.40 billion kroner.

As for Victoza (liraglutide), Novo’s once-daily human glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) analogue for type 2 diabetes, chief executive Lars Rebien Sorensen “is very encouraging”. The drug has been launched in Germany, the UK, Denmark, Ireland, Norway, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Greece and Sweden and feedback from healthcare professionals and patients has been positive, the company says.

In Germany, the GLP-1 class constitutes more than 3% of the total diabetes care market, Novo says, and Victoza has captured more than 52% of that from Amylin/Eli Lilly’s blockbuster Byetta (exenatide). Liraglutide has recently been approved in the USA and Japan.

Novo added that for 2010, operating profit should grow around 10%, while sales growth is forecast to rise 6%-10%. The company is also proposing a new share buy-back programme of 7.50 billion kroner during the year.

However the results have not gone too well with investors this morning, as fourth-quarter profits were flat, and Novo’s shares were down 1.4% at 10.35 (UK time) at 369.40 kroner.