Novo Nordisk has posted another healthy set of figures for the first nine months of the year this morning, helped by a good start for its new diabetes drug Victoza.

Net profit climbed 24% to 10.46 billion kroner (about $1.94 billion), while sales were up 17% to 44.65 billion kroner. The firm's stable of modern insulin products, including Levemir (insulin detemir) and NovoRapid (insulin aspart) contributed 19.47 billion kroner, an increase of 24%.

Human insulins edged up 2% to 8.84 billion kroner, while oral antidiabetic products, notably NovoNorm/Prandin (repaglinide), rose 3% to 2.09 billion kroner. Among the major products in Novo's biopharmaceuticals business, sales of which climbed 11% to 11.24 billion kroner. NovoSeven (recombinant Factor VIIa) was up 13% to 6.03 billion kroner, while the growth hormone Norditropin increased 10% to 3.56 billion kroner.

As for Victoza (liraglutide), sales of Novo’s once-daily human glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) analogue reached 1.37 billion kroner. The company said this reflects solid market performance in both Europe and the USA, "but also encouraging initial uptake in Japan since the mid-2010 launch". Victoza became available in Italy in September and Novo added that based on communication from the Center for Drug Evaluation in China, formal regulatory feedback on Victoza is now expected in the second half of 2011.

Novo was also boosted by the news that the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has published its final (positive) guidance on the use of Victoza in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. See tomorrow's PharmaTimes UK News e-lert for full details.

For full-year 2010, the company says that operating profit should grow at about 15% in local currencies, up from an earlier guidance of 12%-15%, while sales growth is forecast at 11%-12% compared to a previous estimate of 9%-10%.

For 2011. Novo is predicting close to 10% sales growth and a 10–15% increase in operating profit in local currencies. However it is expecting generic competition to its oral antidiabetic products, "further impact from healthcare reforms and continued intense competition within both diabetes care and biopharmaceuticals".