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Novo Nordisk A/S (NVO) Drops Inflammatory Disorder Business; 400 Staffers Impacted

9/2/2014 6:03:02 AM

Novo Nordisk A/S Drops Inflammatory Disorder Business; 400 Staffers Impacted

September 2, 2014

By Mark Terry, Breaking News Staff

Copenhagen, Denmark-based Novo Nordisk A/S (NVO) announced it will tighten its focus on the treatment of diabetes and obesity, halting its work on inflammatory disorders. On August 7, the company had announced that it would stop development of anti-IL-20, a possible treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. As a result of this setback, the company’s Chief Science Officer, Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen, indicated their earliest possible entrance into the anti-inflammatory market would have been in the late 2020s.

Approximately 400 Novo Nordisk employees will be affected. The company plans to offer around half of them positions within the company. As a result of these changes, the company expects to incur a one-time $124 million loss.

Novo Nordisk is a leader in generic insulin, patented insulin and insulin delivery system products. The company announced in June promising data from a new phase 3 study on Victoza® (liraglutide), a drug used to control diabetes and blood sugar. Victoza was launched in the EU in 2009 and is available in more than 68 countries. The drug was approved in January 2010 in the U.S. as an adjunct to diet and exercise to help control blood sugar in adults with type 2 diabetes.
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In addition to new types of insulin-related products, Novo Nordisk is working on the development of insulin in pill form, as opposed to the more common injection. Michael Friis, analyst with Alm. Brand Markets said, “They can see a growth adventure with oral diabetes drugs, so I think that’s where they are going to move the R&D money.”

The company has also had promising news about its once-daily insulin drug Tresiba®. It is conducting a clinical trial, DEVOTE, on the cardiovascular outcomes for Tresiba, which is moving ahead faster than expected, with the potential for an FDA submission in the first half of 2015. The drug was launched in Japan in March 2013, and currently accounts for 21% of the basal insulin market there, based on monthly value market share. In a statement, company CEO Lars Rebien Sorensen, says, “Tresiba® is doing well in key markets and the DEVOTE trial continues to progress ahead of plans. This has enabled us to shorten further the timeline toward the interim analysis and a potential US launch of Tresiba®. Furthermore, with the positive opinion of Xultophy® from the EU regulatory authorities, we have passed a key milestone in bringing the first insulin and GLP-1 combination product to the market.” Xultophy® (IdegLira), is the first once-daily single injection combination of Tresiba and Xultophy® (IdegLira), for the treatment of type 2 diabetes.

Novo Nordisk indicated in a statement that they expect all ongoing clinical activities related to inflammatory disorders will be completed within the next 6 months.

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