| COPENHAGEN, March 20
COPENHAGEN, March 20 Novo Nordisk
should still be able to introduce its long-acting insulin
Tresiba on the U.S. market before rival products, despite being
hit by a delay, the CEO of the Danish pharmaceutical company
said on Thursday.
In February 2013, U.S. regulators unexpectedly refused to
approve Tresiba until the group conducted extra tests over
potential heart risks, dealing a major blow to one of Novo
Nordisk's key products as well as to its share price.
"We judge that we still have an opportunity to launch
Tresiba in the United States, if we are successful in the
trials, before any significant competitive products are being
entered into the market," Lars Rebien Sorensen told the
company's annual general meeting.
French drug maker Sanofi recently sued Eli Lilly
, delaying the U.S. firm's introduction of a generic
version of Sanofi's Lantus insulin product, a rival to Tresiba.
The suit is seen as positive for Novo Nordisk, the world's
largest insulin producer, because it gives the company an
opportunity to bring Tresiba to the market before a generic
version of Lantus is launched.
"You will have noticed a significant positive development of
our share price. It was not necessarily due to the share split
but rather due to our competitors," Sorensen said.
Novo Nordisk lost about $14 billion in market value after
the decision by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was
published. It carried out a 5-1 split of its shares in December
Goran Ando, who took over as chairman of the board at Novo
Nordisk last year, told Reuters that getting Tresiba approved by
the FDA was one of the most important short-term goals for the
"I think perhaps the biggest challenge (in 2014) will be to
keep up the growth in the U.S., which has been a growth engine
for us, without having our new long acting insulin Tresiba on
the market there," he told Reuters ahead of the annual general
The Danish company expects overall sales to grow by 8-11
percent in 2014, below its average 13 percent growth rate over
the last ten years. Novo Nordisk had sales of 39 billion Danish
crowns ($7.2 billion) in 2013 in the United States compared with
34.2 billion crowns a year earlier.
($1 = 5.3662 Danish Crowns)
(Editing by Mark Potter)