Despite a negative currency impact, Danish drugmaker Novo Nordisk has posted a 22% increase in operating profit for full-year 2007 to 2.83 billion kroner (around $585 million), with sales climbing 8% to 10.61 billion kroner.

Growth was driven by Novo's diabetes division, where turnover rose 10% to 7.84 billion kroner, with the firm's stable of modern insulin contributing 3.82 billion kroner of the total, an increase of 25% on the year before. Sales of oral antidiabetic products, notably NovoNorm/Prandin (repaglinide), increased 22% to 640 billion kroner, boosted by an increased market share in China.

Among the major products in Novo's biopharmaceuticals business, sales of which climbed 11% to 2.77 billion kroner, NovoSeven (recombinant Factor VIIa) was up 2% to 1.44 billion kroner, while growth hormone product sales, including Norditropin, went up 12% to 878 million kroner.

The results were slightly better than analysts’ expectations and Novo said that for full-year 2008, sales are forecast to rise by 10%-13% compared to its previous guidance of “slightly above 10%”. However due to the weak dollar and costs related to the recent termination of its AERx inhaled insulin programme, Novo’s operating profit forecast has come down to slightly more than 20% growth from at least 25%. Dropping the AERx project will cost about 500 million kroner this year, as opposed to a previous estimate of 300 million kroner.

Novo also noted that it has just received marketing authorisation from the European Commission for its room temperature stable version of NovoSeven, which means “immediate access to treatment as well as fast and convenient administration when a bleeding episode occurs”. However it has abandoned a Phase III programme for the use of NovoSeven in cardiac surgery in favour of a Phase IIa study in that indication using NN1731, a next-generation version of recombinant Factor VIIa.

Lars Rebien Sorensen, Novo’s chief executive, said the quarter had been one of "solid momentum” despite “the continued depreciation of key invoicing currencies”. The firm is “especially satisfied with the robust sales growth for our modern insulins in the major markets and the sustainable improvement in our gross margin". he added.

His enthusiasm was shared by investors who pushed Novo shares up 5.6% to 329 kroner each.