Novo investing $750M in manufacturing this year

06 February 2015

Eric Palmer, FeircePharmaManufactoring

Novo Nordisk ($NVO) has an insulin plant that will open soon in Russia and bought a plant from Olympus Biologics in the U.S. last year where it will make active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs). These projects are part of efforts by the Denmark-based leader in insulin drugs to build its manufacturing capacity as it continues to grow.

Novo Nordisk CFO Jesper Brandgaard

In a conference call after reporting solid sales and earnings, CFO Jesper Brandgaard said the company expects to spend 5 billion Danish kroner ($767 million) this year to boost its capacity for manufacturing biopharmaceuticals and APIs and insulin filling, as well as some for new R&D construction. Last week Novo reported 2014 global sales of 88.8 billion Danish kroner ($13.5 billion), up 8%, and said it expected revenue growth this year of 6% to 9%.

Mike Rulis, senior vice president of corporate communications at Novo, said Thursday in an email that some of the money would be used to build out the plant the company bought from Olympus. Other work would be done on facilities at the company's other U.S. plant in Clayton, NC, as well as at facilities in Denmark, France, Brazil and China. 

The diabetes and insulin specialist got a nod from the FDA in December for its new obesity treatment Saxenda, a higher dose version of Type 2 diabetes blockbuster drug Victoza. The EU recommended approval in January. It is also looking forward to approval in the U.S. of Tresiba, the long-acting insulin that has been approved in the EU and Japan but which the FDA turned down in 2013 until it got more data on its cardio risks. The company said it will decide in the first half of this year if it will resubmit Tresiba to the FDA based on interim results for an earlier consideration or wait until the full trial is complete next year.

The drugmaker has been steadily building out its production network. The company said last week the $100 million insulin plant in Russia is set to open in the first half of this year and is to employ between 100 and 150 people. Russia currently makes up less than 1% of Novo Nordisk's global sales, but the company expects the new production facility will help boost that.

In August, the company acquired a plant in West Lebanon, NH, from Olympus Biologics when the Japanese company decided last year to ditch its efforts in the U.S. for regenerative medicines. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Olympus had put the word out last year that it was putting a deep discount on the facility in an effort to find a buyer who would take the facility and its employees before it closed in August. It is Novo's second manufacturing facility in the U.S; it also has an insulin production plant in Clayton, NC.



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