September 2, 2014 / 4:30 PM / 3 years ago

UPDATE 1-Novo Nordisk launches Ryzodeg in Mexico after pricing in Denmark

(Updates Monday’s story with distinction between Mexico and Danish launches)

COPENHAGEN, Sept 2 (Reuters) - Novo Nordisk has launched its type 2 diabetes treatment Ryzodeg in Mexico, a combination drug that could reap the company billions in revenue in years to come.

The company said Mexico was its first commercial launch and that its previously-announced introduction of the drug in Denmark was just a “technical” move and not a fully-blown campaign as in the central American country.

Ryzodeg combines Tresiba, its great hope for future growth, with insulin aspart, which is a man-made form of insulin.

In Denmark, neither Tresiba nor Ryzodeg received the status that allows its costs to be covered by the state health service as similar but cheaper versions already existed on the market, meaning virtually no-one would buy the drugs.

But a launch still made sense because prices set at home are often used for reference elsewhere, a fact which encourages Novo Nordisk to set high prices that would not attract state reimbursement, said Sydbank analyst Soren Lontoft Hansen.

“Novo sacrifices sales in Europe, which is a difficult market at the moment, to take the price they want into countries which in the future will be more important to them such as China, Latin America etc,” he said.

The analyst saw Ryzodeg as having “double blockbuster” potential, which means sales of $2 billion a year within 8-10 years of launch around the world.

A spokeswoman from Novo Nordisk confirmed sales of Ryzodeg and Tresiba in Denmark were “limited” and that there had been no marketing campaign for the drugs.

By contrast, “Mexico is a typical mixed market and in addition, as opposed to Denmark, they have a private market too where Tresiba has been received very well”, Katrine Rud von Sperling said in response to questions from Reuters on Tuesday.

The International Diabetes Federation says 8.7 million people live with diabetes in Mexico, with 70,281 diabetes-related deaths in 2013.

Last month, the group said it could launch Tresiba at the start of 2016 in the United States, after the Food and Drug Administration unexpectedly refused to approve the drug last year and requested for more tests. (Reporting by Shida Chayesteh; writing by Sabina Zawadzki; Editing by Mark Potter and David Evans)

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