Novo Nordisk to invest up to $3.7 bln on diabetes pills

Mon Oct 7, 2013 8:55am EDT

COPENHAGEN Oct 7 (Reuters) – Novo Nordisk plans
to invest up to 20 billion Danish crowns ($3.65 billion) on
developing diabetes tablets intended to replace traditional
insulin injections, it said on Monday.

The Danish company said it planned to spend the money
through to 2020 on six diabetes pills it has under development
and that the sum included potential production facilities.

It estimates the global market for diabetes tablets could be
worth more than 100 billion crowns a year from the beginning of
the next decade, a spokesperson said, confirming a report in the
Danish business newspaper Borsen.

In the conventional treatment, insulin has to be injected
into the bloodstream, something that scares off many potential
users in the early stages of diabetes.

The challenge for the tablet technology is to get the
insulin through gastric acid and into the bloodstream.

Novo Nordisk, the world’s largest insulin producer, aims to
develop both an insulin and a so-called GLP-1 agonist in tablet
form. The company has around 500 employees working on the
development of the tablets, the spokesperson said.

It will spend around 1 billion crowns on the projects this
year, with investment increasing towards possible product
launches early next decade.

At 1235 GMT, Novo Nordisk shares were flat at 913.5 crowns.

(Reporting by Copenhagen Newsroom; Editing by Mark Potter)