UPDATED: Novo Nordisk hiring R&D, other workers in U.S. recruitment blitz

In a nice change from the drumbeat of pharma layoff news, Novo Nordisk ($NVO) says it plans to boost its U.S. workforce almost 15% this year amid growth in the Danish drugmaker's diabetes business. And a portion of the hires will be made at a new R&D site focused on new treatments for Type 1 diabetes.

This summer Novo, which employed 4,000 workers in the U.S. at the start of 2012, plans to open the R&D facility in Seattle, where it expects to create 20 research jobs, according to a company representative. 

While Big Pharma companies like Pfizer ($PFE) and Merck ($MRK) have been cutting U.S. workers, Novo has been beefing up its workforce at a clip of about 10% annually over the past 5 years, the company said. Its initial hires are expected within weeks as the company recruits for medical liaisons, diabetes educators, sales positions and other commercial posts. At the same time, the company says it continues to seek new scientists in Seattle and staff for its plant in Clayton, NC.

The company appears to be bullish about the future of its business, which includes three products under FDA review and a pipeline of mid-stage and late-stage drug candidates. Diabetes remains one of the hottest areas of drug development, as cases of the metabolic disorder in the U.S. and around the world skyrocket. There are now more than 20 million Americans diagnosed with diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the ailment has been tied closely to the obesity epidemic in the country.

"This announcement signals the strength of our business model, the increasing demand for our world-class diabetes products, and the steady output of our robust pipeline," Jerzy Gruhn, president of Novo's U.S. affiliate, stated. "Expanding will provide us the opportunity to better support current business as well as the right structure to meet the future needs of our customers."

- here's the release