Novo Nordisk has posted a strong set of figures for the third quarter, with operating profit climbing 15% to 3.81 billion kroner (about $760 million), while sales were up 11% to 12.52 billion kroner.

Growth was driven by Novo's diabetes division, where turnover climbed 12% to 9.27 billion kroner. The firm's stable of modern insulin products, including Levemir (insulin detemir) and NovoRapid (insulin aspart) contributed 5.35 billion kroner, an increase of 23. Human insulins slipped 2% to 2.48 billion kroner and oral antidiabetic products, notably NovoNorm/Prandin (repaglinide), were down 3% to 650 million kroner.

Among the major products in Novo's biopharmaceuticals business, sales of which climbed 10% to 3.25 billion kroner, NovoSeven (recombinant Factor VIIa) was up 8% to 1.65 billion kroner, while the growth hormone Norditropin increased 14% to 1.07 billion kroner.

Novo has raised its guidance for full-year 2009 operating profit growth (in local currencies) to around 15% from a previous forecast range of 12%-14%, and maintained its forecast for sales growth at 10%. However, operating profit is only expected to rise 5% while 2010 sales are forecast to climb 5%-10%, which has disappointed analysts.

The main focus of attention at Novo now is the new diabetes drug Victoza (liraglutide) and chief executive Lars Rebien Sorensen said the launch in Europe is progressing well. He noted that “we are seeing strong in-market penetration in the first-wave launch countries, Germany, the UK and Denmark” and the firm expects to hear from the US Food and Drug Administration before the end of the year.