After the recent disappointment earlier this year with NovoSeven, Danish health care giant Novo Nordisk has come right back on course with its ambitious growth targets thanks to the leading pipeline product liraglutide, a GLP-1 (Glucagon-Like Peptide-1) for type 2 diabetes, which looks set to perform well against the competition it will face from Lilly's GLP-1 product Byetta and Sanofi-Aventis' insulin glargine product Lantus.
Clinical results from the first of five phase 3 studies with liraglutide produced better efficacy and fewer side effects than in comparable studies of Byetta, and compared with Lantus which is associated with weight gain, the Novo Nordisk product enabled patients to lose weight. This is particularly significant, since US studies have shown that about 1.5 million women undermedicate themselves from fear of gaining weight.
Liraglutide is expected to be launched in 2009, and will enter a hugely lucrative market in which sales of Byetta totalled DKK 800 m (USD 145 m) in the first quarter, while annual sales of Lantus in 2006 topped DKK 12 bn (USD 2.2 bn) in 2006.
Liraglutide has a once daily dosage, compared with Byetta which is taken twice daily. It works by stimulating the release of insulin only when glucose levels become too high. In contrast to most other antidiabetic treatments liraglutide also leads to weight loss instead of weight increase. The news is reported by financial daily newspaper Børsen.
Headquartered in Denmark, Novo Nordisk is a world leader in diabetes care. The company employs more than 23,600 employees in 79 countries, and markets its products in 179 countries. Novo Nordisk’s B shares are listed on the stock exchanges in Copenhagen and London.