CVS inclusion helps Novo gain market share
- Novo Nordisk's reported a 10% rise in operating profit and a 174% increase in Tresiba sales to 1.5 billion Danish kroner ($220 million) for the first quarter, boosting the Danish company's share price by over 9% to close at $41.10 on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday.
- Diabetes care, up 12%, now makes up 82% of Novo Nordisk's sales, driven by a 163% growth in the new generation insulins Tresiba, Xultophy (insulin degludec/liraglutide) and Ryzodeg (insulin degludec/insulin aspart).
- Sales of Saxenda, an anti-obesity medicine also marketed as Victoza for diabetes, have shot up by 122% to 500 million Danish kroner ($73 million), with a 44% share of the U.S. anti-obesity medication market in the U.S. after two years on the market.
Novo Nordisk is one of the big three in insulin and diabetes care, and has seen a major uptick in the sales of its new generation insulin Tresiba (insulin degludec) following commercial formulary changes for CVS in basal insulin that included Tresiba and Levemir, though CEO Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen warned against putting too much emphasis on this.
"When you look at the Tresiba performance, there was a massive increase in the number of new-to-brand scripts when the CVS contract was opened. What we have benefited from is an uptake in the total scripts from those patients who have been converted there. It is important to judge performance based on the total script data; the dynamics have to a degree played out in the CVS contract and now our new-to-brand script data is coming down to the prior level," said Jørgensen.
Jørgensen declined to speculate on how the dynamics would play out for 2018 pricing, acknowledging that the launch of Eli Lilly & Co.'s Basaglar, the first "follow on" version of Sanofi's blockbuster insulin Lantus (insulin glargine) would have an impact.
The Tresiba new-to-brand prescription market share has settled at 12%, having a total prescription share of 7.3% in the U.S. basal insulin market. The total weekly volume market share in the U.S. for Levemir and Tresiba combined is 31%.
"In 2017, Tresiba has maintained wide formulary coverage with around 70% access for patients in the commercial channels and Medicare Part D combined," said Jørgensen.
Direct-to-consumer advertising on Tresiba was $12 million in the quarter, described by Jørgensen on the first quarter earnings call as having "upped the game a bit here." Overall, DTC spending was unchanged compared with the same quarter of 2016, but the company plans to reinvest savings made in the beginning of the year into DTC towards the end of the year.
Insulin, an essential part of diabetes management, has been a contentious issue of late, with all three insulin drugmakers being investigated for insulin pricing practices going back as far as 2005.
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