* New data shows degludec superior to Lantus
* Sanofi gaining, Eli Lilly losing market share
* Has begun phase IIIa clinical trial of haemophilia compound
COPENHAGEN, May 5 Danish drugmaker Novo Nordisk (NOVOb.CO) published data on Thursday which it said confirmed its degludec insulin drug candidate was superior to competing drug Lantus from France's Sanofi Aventis (SASY.PA).
The world's biggest maker of insulin said in presentations to investors that Sanofi Aventis had a strong market position together with Novo Nordisk, adding U.S. rival Elli Lilly (LLY.N) continued to lag.
World pharmaceuticals companies are competing fiercely in the modern insulin market as the number of diabetics world-wide continues to grow.
Sales of modern insulins make up close to 72 percent of Novo Nordisk's total insulin sales, reflecting continued conversion of the market from human insulin to modern insulin.
Modern insulin is a synthetic version of insulin as opposed to actual human insulin.
Novo Nordisk's main competitors in the diabetes market are Eli Lilly and Sanofi Aventis.
Novo has a 46 percent global market share in modern insulins, while Sanofi-Aventis has 34 percent, Eli Lilly 19 percent, and other players a combined 1 percent share, Novo said.
"Lilly is losing, Sanofi Aventis is gaining based on Lantus. That's the short version," said Chief Operating Officer Kaare Schultz.
"There is nothing new happening in the marketplace from that perspective. We have a pretty stable situation. We are not really able to beat back Lantus completely, so they keep getting their very strong position," Schultz said.
Phase IIIa study details announced on Thursday showed that ultra long-lasting modern insulin Degludec, administered once daily, was superior to Sanofi-Aventis' Lantus, administered once a day, Novo Nordisk said.
The superiority was in terms of a lower rate of overall confirmed blood sugar and a lower rate of nocturnal confirmed blood sugar, Novo said.
The study showed a 9 percent reduction in the rate of overall confirmed low levels of blood sugar for Degludec compared to Lantus and a 26 percent reduction in rate of nocturnal confirmed levels of low blood sugar for Degludec compared to Lantus, it said.
Novo has said it expects to launch its modern insulins degludec and degludec plus in the first half of next year.
Sanofi-Aventis' Lantus patent will expire in 2014/2015 and Novo Nordisk's patent for its current competitor to Lantus will expire after 2015.
Novo also said on Thursday it had begun a phase IIIa clinical development of its NN7999 haemophilia drug based on phase I results announced in October last year.
The phase IIIa trial was expected to enrol 68 participants and be completed in mid-2013, the company said. (Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)