Novo to Fight Back With New Products to Regain Ground in China

  • Newer Novo drugs expected to hit market within couple of years
  • About 114 million Chinese are estimated to have diabetes

Novo Nordisk A/S, the world’s largest maker of insulin, expects to roll out new diabetes treatments in China within a couple of years, helping the company take on competition that’s eroded its share of the local market.

Novo has benefited from the insulins Tresiba and Ryzodeg globally, yet the company awaits regulatory clearance for those products in China, Executive Vice President Maziar Mike Doustdar said in an interview at an industry conference in Munich. Tresiba, a long-acting insulin, has been introduced in 45 countries, its sales rising 167 percent in the first six months of the year, Novo said in August.

“Hopefully in the near-term future we’ll be able to bring some of the drugs, the newest innovations that we’ve seen elsewhere, into China,” said Doustdar, whose role overseeing the company’s international operations was expanded earlier this month.

While Novo has lost ground in China amid increased competition from Sanofi, Eli Lilly & Co. and local producers, it has managed to stabilize its position in the market, he said, citing data from IMS Health. There’s a lot at stake in China, where about 114 million people have diabetes and the epidemic is growing at a “fearsome pace,” according to the International Diabetes Federation.

“We need to compete with local producers, and they have become more aggressive, frankly speaking, trying to gain market share from us by reducing prices, and we have to fight, and we have lost some market share in that segment in the last year or two,” Doustdar said. “We have not, during the last five or six months, been able to regain the market share that we have lost, but we have been able to a very large extent stop the decline.”

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