Novo Nordisk has posted yet another stellar set of figures, helped by strong sales of its diabetes drug Victoza.
First-quarter net profit climbed 28% to 5.98 billion Danish kroner (about $1.06 billion), while sales were up 13% to 19.98 billion kroner. The firm's stable of modern insulin products, including Levemir (insulin detemir) and NovoRapid (insulin aspart) contributed 8.99 billion kroner, an increase of 14%.
Human insulins were up 4% to 2.82 billion kroner, while oral antidiabetic products, notably NovoNorm/Prandin (repaglinide), fell 3% to 694 million kroner. As for Victoza (liraglutide), sales of Novo’s once-daily human glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) analogue reached 2.68 billion kroner, up 35%. The Danish company said Victoza now has a 68% value market share in the GLP-1 segment, compared to 61% in 2012.
Among the major products in Novo's biopharmaceuticals business, sales of which climbed 9% to 4.19 billion kroner, NovoSeven (recombinant Factor VIIa) was up 6% to 2.03 billion kroner, while the growth hormone Norditropin increased 14% to 1.54 billion kroner.
Tresiba (insulin degludec), Novo's new-generation, long-acting insulin, has been launched in the UK, Denmark and Japan and chief executive Lars Rebien Sorensen said the firm is "encouraged by the early feedback from patients and doctors". However, things are less straightforward across the pond given that Novo received a complete response letter from the US Food and Drug Administration for Tresiba and Ryzodeg (insulin degludec/insulin aspart) in February.
In the letter, the agency told Novo it needs to conducts a dedicated cardiovascular outcomes trial before reviews of the drugs can be completed. Mr Sorensen said "we are in a constructive dialogue with the FDA on how to resolve the issues raised" in the CRLs.
Novo says it now expects sales growth in 2012 of 9%-11% in local currencies, up from a previous estimate of 8%-11%, while operating profit should still increase by 10%, which reflects the expansion of sales force and and marketing investments for modern insulins, Victoza in the USA and the launch of Tresiba, as well as increased investment in China.