Novo Nordisk lifts full-year sales outlook amid growing demand for Ozempic, Saxenda in second quarter

Headline results for the second quarter:

Revenue

DKK30 billion ($4.5 billion)

+10%

Profit

DKK9.6 billion ($1.4 billion)

-7%

Note: All changes are versus the prior-year period unless otherwise stated

What the company said:

"We are pleased with the sales growth in the first half of 2019, which is driven by all regions in international operations," remarked CEO Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen, adding that "the launch of Ozempic is expanding the GLP-1 market, and we are encouraged by the positive market reception in both North America and Europe."

The executive also stated "with the initiation of four major late-stage clinical trials, we continue to investigate the clinical benefits of semaglutide across multiple indications," continuing "the solid financial performance in the first half of 2019 has enabled us to raise our outlook for the full-year."

Other results:           

  • Diabetes segment: DKK23.8 billion ($3.6 billion), +4% on a constant currency basis, with sales in the first half of the year driven by "solid" sales of GLP-1 agonists, partially offset by lower insulin revenue
    • Victoza: DKK5.4 billion ($810 million), -9% on a constant currency basis
    • Tresiba: DKK2.5 billion ($375 million), +22% on a constant currency basis
    • Levemir: DKK2.3 billion ($345 million), -25% on a constant currency basis
    • Ozempic: DKK2.3 billion ($345 million)
  • Saxenda: DKK1.5 billion ($225 million), +60% on a constant currency basis
  • Biopharmaceuticals: DKK4.8 billion ($720 million), +6% on a constant currency basis

Looking ahead:

For the full year, Novo Nordisk now anticipates sales growth in the range of 4% to 6%, up from a prior forecast of between 2% and 5%. The company explained that the guidance reflects "robust performance" for the GLP-1-based diabetes therapies Victoza and Ozempic and the obesity drug Saxenda, as well as its portfolio of new-generation insulin. The outlook also takes into account "intensifying competition both within diabetes and biopharmaceuticals, especially within the haemophilia inhibitor segment," the company said, adding that continued pricing pressure is expected for diabetes treatments, particularly in the US market.

Novo Nordisk also expects a loss of DKK3.5 billion ($526 million), worsened from a prior loss projection of DKK3.3 billion ($495 million). According to the drugmaker, the forecast mainly reflects expected losses related to foreign exchange hedging contracts.

Pipeline update:

Novo Nordisk revealed that it has submitted a new drug application in Japan seeking approval of oral semaglutide for the treatment of type 2 diabetes in adults.

The company also disclosed the start of a mid-stage proof-of-concept study combining semaglutide with Gilead Sciences' experimental FXR agonist cilofexor and its investigational ACC inhibitor firsocostat for the treatment of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. The drugmakers initially announced plans to assess the three-drug combination in April.

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