Novo Nordisk is a Danish multinational pharmaceutical company headquartered in Bagsværd, Denmark, with production facilities in eight countries, and affiliates or offices in 75 countries. Novo Nordisk is controlled by majority shareholder Novo Holdings A/S which holds approximately 25% of its shares and a supermajority (75%) of its voting shares.
Novo Nordisk manufactures and markets pharmaceutical products and services. Key products include diabetes care medications and devices. Novo Nordisk is also involved with hemostasis management, growth hormone therapy and hormone replacement therapy. The company makes several drugs under various brand names, including Levemir, NovoLog, Novolin R, NovoSeven, NovoEight and Victoza.
Novo Nordisk employs more than 40,000 people globally, and markets its products in 180 countries. The corporation was created in 1989 through a merger of two Danish companies which date back to the 1920s. The Novo Nordisk logo is the Apis bull, one of the sacred animals of ancient Egypt.
Novo Nordisk is a full member of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA).
The company was ranked 25th among 100 best companies to work for in 2010 by Fortune. In January 2012, Novo Nordisk was named as the most sustainable company in the world by the business magazine Corporate Knights while spin-off company Novozymes was named fourth. Novo Nordisk was ranked 72nd on “Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For®” list within the U.S. state of New Jersey as of January 2014.
Behind Novo Nordisk lies a story about two Danish firms - Nordisk Insulinlaboratorium and Novo Terapeutisk Laboratorium. Nordisk Insulinlaboratorium was founded by Hans Christian Hagedorn, August Krogh and August Kongsted in 1923 in Copenhagen.
In 1922, August Krogh and his wife Marie Krogh travelled to the US. The couple had heard reports of people with diabetes being treated with insulin – a hormone discovered in 1921 by two Canadians, Frederick Banting and Charles Best. Marie Krogh was a doctor herself and also had type 2 diabetes. The couple returned to Denmark with permission to manufacture and sell insulin in Scandinavia. With the economic help from August Kongsted – the owner of Leo Pharmaceutical Products - Insulin Leo was marketed in 1923.
When Krogh and Hagedorn started manufacturing insulin, they hired Thorvald Pedersen and his brother Harald Pedersen to build the machines for insulin production. However, Thorvald Pedersen was fired from Nordisk and the two brothers decided to try to manufacture insulin themselves. Thorvald and Harald Pedersen managed to produce a stable liquid insulin and marketed Insulin Novo in 1925. The brothers named their firm Novo Terapeutisk Laboratorium. Over the next decades the products were further improved, e.g., with focus on longer effect; nevertheless, there were still challenges to be met, and in the 1970s the new goal was to produce human insulin meaning that Novo would no longer depend on animal pancreases. In 1982, Novo succeeded and launched the world’s first insulin preparation identical to human insulin.
Nordisk marketed a genetically engineered human growth hormone in 1988 and Novo Nordisk is market leading in the world today in this area and introduced the world’s first liquid growth hormone in a pen system in 1999.
In 1989, Novo Industri A/S (Novo Terapeutisk Laboratorium) and Nordisk Gentofte A/S (Nordisk Insulinlaboratorium) merged to become Novo Nordisk A/S, the world's largest producer of insulin with headquarters in Bagsværd, Copenhagen. In 2000 the company demerged into NovoZymes A/S and Novo Nordisk A/S. Research into bleeding disorders lead to the foundation of The Novo Nordisk Haemophilia Foundation in 2005 striving to improve access to care for people with haemophilia and allied bleeding disorders.
In 2015, the company announced it would collaborate with Ablynx, using its nanobody technology to develop at least one new drug candidate.
Jesper Brandgaard is the Executive Vice President and CFO of the global healthcare company Novo Nordisk A/S. Brandgaard has been the Vice Chairman of the board of directors in the Danish company SimCorp since 2007.
Tresiba – a Diabetes mellitus type 1 and Type 2 diabetes drug. It is a new-generation basal insulin with ultra-long duration of action of more than 42 hours administered through subcutaneous injection. Intended to offer a flexible treatment and a good safety profile. It is approved and launched in the EU and Japan and under regulatory review in the US and other major markets.
Saxenda – a once-daily human GLP-1 analogue. It serves as an agonist, intended for combination with lifestyle changes (including diet), to offer sustainable weight loss for people with severe obesity, including those at particular risk of developing diabetes.
Ryzodeg – a drug for type 1 and 2 diabetes. Ryzodeg is a soluble co-formulation of Tresiba and NovoRapid, and is a rapid-acting mealtime insulin. It is approved to offer patients reduced risk of hypoglycemia and is currently approved in the EU and Japan. US FDA also approved Ryzodeg & Tresiba on 25 September 2015 after reviewing the interim safety data of the ongoing CV outcome trial DEVOTE .
Levemir – long-acting human insulin analogue for maintaining the basal level of insulin. It is an insulin analogue in which a fatty acid (myristic acid) is bound to the lysine amino acid at position B29. It is quickly absorbed after which it binds to albumin in the blood through its fatty acid at position B29. It then slowly dissociates from this complex.
Victoza – a long-acting glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist, binding to the same receptors as does the endogenous metabolic hormone GLP-1 that stimulates insulin secretion. It is an injectable drug developed for the treatment of type 2 diabetes.
NovoLog – a fast-acting insulin analog. It is a manufactured form of human insulin; where a single amino acid has been exchanged. This change helps the fast-acting insulin analog be absorbed quickly into the bloodstream. As a result, it starts working in minutes, which allows one to take insulin and eat right away. Fast-acting insulin analogs are considered to act similarly to the way insulin is released in people without diabetes mellitus.
Novolin N – an intermediate-acting insulin given to help control the blood sugar level of people with diabetes.
Novolin R – is primarily used to treat high blood sugar levels in conditions like diabetes mellitus.
NovoLog Mix 70/30 – is a product which contains 30% insulin aspart and 70% insulin aspart protamine. The insulin aspart protamine portion is a crystalline form of insulin aspart, which delays the action of the insulin, giving it a prolonged absorption profile after injection. The combination of the fast-acting form and the long-acting form allows the patient to receive fewer injections over the course of the day.
In addition to the development of diabetes treatment pharmaceuticals, Novo Nordisk has been involved in the production of several lines of insulin pumps/pens for efficient delivery into the body and bloodstream.
NovoEight – is a recombinant antihemophilic factor VIII used for the treatment of and prophylaxis of bleeding patients with haemophilia A.
NovoSeven – is a form of blood factor VII that has been manufactured via recombinant technology.
Novo Nordisk is involved in publicly funded collaborative research projects with other industrial and academic partners. One example in the area of non-clinical safety assessment is the InnoMed PredTox. The company is expanding its activities in joint research projects within the framework of the Innovative Medicines Initiative of European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations and the European Commission.
Novo Nordisk founded the World Diabetes foundation to save the lives of those affected by diabetes in developing countries and supported a UN resolution to fight diabetes, making diabetes the only other disease alongside HIV / AIDS to have a commitment to combat at a UN level.
Diabetes treatments account for 85% of Novo Nordisk’s business. Novo Nordisk works with doctors, nurses, and patients, to develop products for self-managing diabetes conditions. The DAWN (Diabetes Attitudes, Wishes and Needs) 2001 study was a global survey of the psychosocial aspects of living with diabetes. It involved over 5,000 people with diabetes and almost 4,000 care providers. This study was designed to identify barriers to optimal health and quality of life. A follow-up study completed in 2012 involved more than 15,000 people living with, or caring for, those with diabetes. In response to UK findings, a National Action Plan (NAP) was developed, with a multidisciplinary steering committee, to support the delivery of individualized person-centered care in the UK. The NAP seeks to provide a holistic approach to diabetes treatment for patients and their families.
The i3-diabetes programme is a unique collaboration between the King's Health Partners, one of only six Academic Health Sciences Centres (AHSCs) in England, and Novo Nordisk with the aim of co-creatinga new, world-class model of patient-centred, specialist diabetes care that will meet the changing needs of people with diabetes. The programme is a five-year collaboration designed to deliver personalised care that will lead to improved outcomes for people living with diabetes, and more efficient and effective ways of caring for people with diabetes.
Novo Nordisk have sponsored the International Diabetes Federation's Unite for Diabetes campaign.
In March 2014, Novo Nordisk announced a partnership program entitled ‘Cities Changing Diabetes,’ which entails combating urban diabetes. Partnership includes University College London (UCL) and supported by Steno Diabetes Center, as well as a range of local partners including healthcare professionals, city authorities, urban planners, businesses, academics and community leaders.
A November 2014 newspaper article suggested that a recent medical research breakthrough at Harvard University (creating insulin-producing cells from embryonic stem cells) could potentially put Novo Nordisk out of business. Dr Alan Moses, the chief medical officer of Novo Nordisk, commented that the biology of diabetes is incredibly complex but also that Novo Nordisk's mission is to alleviate and cure diabetes. If this new medical advance "...meant the dissolution of Novo Nordisk, that'd be fine."
Novo Nordisk was researching pulmonary delivery systems for diabetic medications, and in the early stages of research into autoimmune and chronic inflammatory diseases, using technologies such as translational immunology and monoclonal antibodies In September 2014 the company announced a decision to discontinue all research in inflammatory disorders, including the discontinuation of R&D in anti-IL-20 for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.
In 2010, Novo Nordisk breached the ABPIs code of conduct by failing to provide information about side-effects of Victoza and by promoting Victoza prior to being granted market authorization.
In 2013 Novo Nordisk had to pay back DKK 3.6 billion to the Danish tax authorities due to transfer mispricing.
In March 2013, a debate emerged in which scientists questioned whether the incretin class of diabetes medications – the class to which Victoza belongs – had an increased risk of side effects in the pancreas such as pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer. It was concluded that data currently available did not confirm these concerns.
In October 2013, batches of NovoMix 30 FlexPen and Penfill insulin were recalled in some European countries as their analysis had shown that a small percentage of the products in these batches did not meet the specifications for insulin strength.
In September 2017, Novo Nordisk agreed to pay $58.7 million to end a United States Department of Justice probe into the lack of FDA disclosure to doctors about the cancer risk for their diabetes drug, Victoza.
Novo Nordisk has sponsored sportsmen with diabetes, such as Charlie Kimball in auto racing and Team Novo Nordisk in road cycling.