Novo Nordisk betting $3.7B on a blockbuster oral diabetes drug market

Novo Nordisk ($NVO) experienced a nasty setback early this year when the FDA rejected its long-acting insulin Tresiba. But with the diabetes treatment rolling out in other markets, Novo is prepared to confidently bet upwards of $3.7 billion doing the groundwork necessary to develop new oral diabetes therapies and next-gen approaches as it defends its growing franchise for Victoza.

The oral diabetes market could be worth more than $18 billion by 2020, a Novo spokesperson tells Reuters, which was following up on a report in the Danish business publication Børsen. And Novo Nordisk plans to remain one of the leading drug developers in the disease.

The business news service reports that Novo Nordisk has committed to supporting an R&D project involving some 500 staffers and plans next-gen efforts for oral insulin as well as an oral GLP-1 drug, the busy new diabetes drug development arena that has drawn in every big player in the industry, including Eli Lilly ($LLY), Sanofi ($SNY) and GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK), among others.

There's been fierce competition to develop oral SGLT2 drugs, and Novo's declaration indicates that the rivalry can only grow more intense in coming years.

Novo CEO Lars Rebien Sørensen

Novo Nordisk has a late-stage program underway for semaglutide, a once-weekly GLP-1 drug being compared with its franchise drug Victoza as well as a whole slate of early-stage therapies. Novo CEO Lars Rebien Sørensen recently told FiercePharma Editor Tracy Staton that the company feels confident about its plans for the future, happy with an agreement with the FDA on its response for Tresiba as well as eased safety concerns regarding the entire GLP-1 class. That confidence is helping propel an ambitious R&D program aimed at countering some intense competition from industry rivals. 

- here's the story from Reuters

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