Novo Nordisk new insulin pen to stimulate U.S. demand

Levemir FlexTouch--Courtesy of Novo Nordisk

It's not often that Americans opt for a more difficult option over a simple one. But when it comes to insulin to treat the growing ranks of those with diabetes, U.S. patients are much more likely to use a vial and syringe than Europeans, who prefer a prefilled pen.

Diabetes powerhouse Novo Nordisk ($NVO) is looking to remedy that situation with the introduction of a new, easier-to-use pen onto the U.S. market: the Levemir FlexTouch. In November, the FlexTouch was approved by the FDA for use with Levemir, a long-acting insulin analog, and NovoLog, a fast-acting insulin.

Prefilled pens are not only more convenient for users but also more lucrative for Novo Nordisk. Insulin delivered via pen has a price that's more than double that of using a vial and a syringe, according to Novo Nordisk President and CEO Lars Sørensen on the company's third-quarter earnings call. Only about 41% of U.S. insulin-using diabetes patients deliver it via a pen system, but in Europe that figure is more than 95%.

It was approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in July 2011. The device has also launched in several countries, including the United Kingdom, Canada, Denmark, and Japan.

Insurers may bristle at paying double for a similar outcome. The company said that FlexTouch is available through more than 96% of commercial and Medicare Part D plans; it has Tier 1 status on UnitedHealthcare and preferred status on Coventry.

 - here is the press release

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