Net profit at Danish drugmaker Novo Nordisk fell 2% as costs of rolling out its new diabetes drug Levemir in the USA more than offset a healthy leap in sales.

Net profit came in at 1.21 billion kroner ($205m), although group sales rose a healthy 23% to 8.95 billion kroner, driven by Novo Nordisk’s insulin analogue products and NovoSeven (recombinant Factor VIIa) for haemophilia and other clotting disorders.

Costs associated with the US launch of new long-acting insulin analogue Levemir (insulin detemir), which caused sales and distribution costs to leap 28% to 2.73 billion kroner.

Novo Nordisk needs to invest well in the US launch of Levemir, which kicked off in March, because it will compete head-to-head in the marketplace with Lantus (insulin glargine), another long-acting insulin analogue developed by Sanofi-Aventis.

Sales of the company’s insulin analogues increased by 60% overall, while NovoSeven rose 16%. For the full-year, Novo Nordisk expects sales to rise 11%-13%.

- Meanwhile, Novo Nordisk said it had started Phase III testing of liraglutide, a once-daily analogue of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) in around 3,800 patients with type 2 diabetes.