Novo Nordisk Leapfrogs Glaxo as U.K. Drug Giant Declines

GlaxoSmithKline Plc’s sales slump has allowed Novo Nordisk A/S to leapfrog the U.K. drug giant to become Europe’s fourth-biggest drugmaker by market value.

The CHART OF THE DAY shows how the 27 percent surge in the share price of the world’s biggest maker of insulin this year has propelled its market capitalization to $120 billion, while Glaxo’s declining stock has pushed its value down to $117 billion. Tumbling sales of Glaxo’s most important product - the Advair inhaler - led the drugmaker to lower its full-year forecast on July 23, sending the stock to its biggest weekly drop since 2008.

Novo has seen insulin sales gain 14 percent a year for the last decade, helped by a global diabetes epidemic that shows no sign of abating. Fewer rivals and difficult-to-copy drugs mean Novo can raise prices, while an increasingly competitive and crowded market for asthma treatments has reduced Advair’s sales, according to Barclays Plc analyst Mark Purcell.

“Advair pricing has started to spiral downwards,” Purcell said in an interview. “Novo will continue to outpace Glaxo in terms of sales growth through to the end of the decade.”

Glaxo still dwarfs the Danish drug firm by sales. In dollar terms, analysts expect Glaxo to generate revenue of $40.2 billion this year, more than double the $15.8 billion they estimate Novo will bring in by treating diabetes, hemophilia and growth-hormone deficiency.

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