Danish drugmaker Novo Nordisk said its 2005 sales and operating profits grew 16%, ahead of expectations, helped by robust gains for its insulin analogue products for diabetes.

Sales came in at 33 billion kroner ($5.4bn), with Novo Nordisk’s diabetes insulin franchise maintaining its number one position in the marketplace with an 18% hike to 22 billion kroner, giving the firm a 51% global market share. Operating profit at the company rose to 5.9 billion kroner.

Insulin analogue sales, including NovoLog and NovoRapid (insulin aspart) and Levemir (insulin detemir), were up 62% to 7.3 billion.

The biopharmaceuticals division also put in a good showing, with a 16% gain for haemophilia treatment NovoSeven (recombinant Factor VIIa) to 5.1 billion kroner. But a major contributor here was Novo Nordisk’s human growth hormone range, which rose 20% to 2.8 billion kroner, despite a lot of competition in this sector, thanks to the popularity of the firm’s NordiFlex patient-friendly pen injector system.

Novo Nordisk’s chief executive, Lars Rebien Sorensen, said: “we expect the strong demand for our strategic products to continue in 2006 despite increased competition.” The company is forecasting a 10% sales increase in 2006, with operating profit also tipped to grow by the same margin.