2013 started out as a challenging year for Novo Nordisk following pushback from the FDA for its novel insulin product, Tresiba. Despite the setback, Novo Nordisk has again succeeded in recording a year of excellent sales growth. In 2013 Novo Nordisk saw total sales increase by 7% (to DKK 83.6 billion) and an operating profit increase of 7%.

The company's expansion into emerging markets is generating positive results but it is the growth of its diabetes products in the United States that is at the core of the companies strong financial performance. Growing by 14% in 2013, North America now accounts for 47% of Novo Nordisk's sales. A long-term challenge for Novo Nordisk will be to continue its emerging market growth and to avoid over-reliance on blockbuster products in the United States. With Japan & Korea sales shrinking by 20% in 2013, and Europe flat at 2%, the challenges of being a truly global pharmaceutical company are evident.

The company outlines a clear strategy to diversify its therapy area alignment from being number one in diabetes, to also being number one or two in a small number of additional therapy areas. With a rich pipeline in its targeted areas of expertise, the strategy is sound and its goal achievable. Ideally, the additional therapy areas will allow the company to sustain its growth and endure future setbacks such as the delay to U.S. approval for Tresiba.

Full analysis of Novo Nordisk's 2013 results are available through DRG's Pharmaview service.

Gideon Heap, M.Sc., is an analyst with the Pharmaview team at Decision Resources Group.

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