Novo Nordisk has posted a healthy set of figures for the first nine months, helped by strong sales of diabetes drug Victoza.

Net profit climbed 19% to 12.41 billion Danish kroner (about $2.36 billion), while sales were up 8% to 48.23 billion kroner. The firm's stable of modern insulin products, including Levemir (insulin detemir) and NovoRapid (insulin aspart) contributed 20.91 billion kroner, an increase of 7%.

However, human insulins were down 10% to just under 8.00 billion kroner, while oral antidiabetic products, notably NovoNorm/Prandin (repaglinide), fell 8% to 1.36 billion kroner. The former are being negatively impacted by market share losses, especially in the UK, and the effects of healthcare reforms.

Among the major products in Novo's biopharmaceuticals business, sales of which climbed 5% to 11.76 billion kroner, NovoSeven (recombinant Factor VIIa) was up 3% to 6.22 billion kroner, while the growth hormone Norditropin increased 4% to 3.71 billion kroner.

As for Victoza (liraglutide), sales of Novo’s once-daily human glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) analogue reached 3.90 billion kroner, up 185%. The Danish company said the drug has now reached a global value market share of 54% in the GLP-1 segment and is now launched in 36 countries.

The firm says it expects sales growth in 2011 of 10%-11% in local currencies, up from earlier estimates of up to 9%-11%, despite "intense competition", generics of its oral antidiabetic products and "negative impact from the implementation of healthcare reforms primarily in the USA and Europe". Operating profit should increase 17%-19%, compared to a previous forecast of 15%-19%.