Novo Nordisk has posted a healthy set of figures for the first half, helped by strong sales of new diabetes drug Victoza, and has slightly raised its outlook for the full year.

Net profit climbed 19% to 8.21 billion Danish kroner (about $1.57 billion), while sales were up 9% to 31.69 billion kroner. The firm's stable of modern insulin products, including Levemir (insulin detemir) and NovoRapid (insulin aspart) contributed 13.68 billion kroner, an increase of 8%.

However, human insulins were down 10% to 5.30 billion kroner, while oral antidiabetic products, notably NovoNorm/Prandin (repaglinide), inched up 1% to 1.36 billion kroner. The former are being negatively impacted by market share losses, especially in the UK, and healthcare reforms implemented during 2010, while for the oral drugs, growth in China was offset by lower sales in Europe due to generic competition in several markets.

Among the major products in Novo's biopharmaceuticals business, sales of which climbed 5% to 7.84 billion kroner, NovoSeven (recombinant Factor VIIa) was up 3% to 4.17 billion kroner, while the growth hormone Norditropin increased 4% to 2.43 billion kroner.

As for Victoza (liraglutide), sales of Novo’s once-daily human glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) analogue reached 2.35 billion kroner, up 253%. The Danish company said the drug has now reached a global value market share of 47% in the GLP-1 segment and is now launched in 36 countries.

The firm says it expects sales growth in 2011 of 9%-11%, up from earlier estimates of up to 8%-10%, hit by "continued intense competition, generic competition to oral antidiabetic products and an impact from the implementation of healthcare reforms primarily in the USA and Europe". Operating profit should increase 15%-19%, from an previous forecast of 15%.