Novo Nordisk to boost US diabetes sales force by 60%

Danish drugmaker Novo Nordisk announced plans to boost the size of its US diabetes care sales force by 60%, or 700 reps, before mid-2007. Novo Nordisk controls approximately 40% of the US insulin market, which has grown increasingly competitive over the past two years following the launches of Lilly and Amylin’s GLP-1 inhibitor Byetta, Pfizer’s Exubera inhaled insulin and Merck’s DPP-4 inhibitor Januvia. Novo Nordisk said the goal of its field force expansion is to further support its currently marketed insulin analogs—Levemir, NovoLog Mix 70/30 and NovoLog—and gear up for the planned 2009 launch of its Liraglutide diabetes treatment. Analysts said the Novo sales force increase is a defensive move to help the company compete with Januvia, Exubera and Novartis’ yet-to-be approved Galvus. Poul la Cour, an analyst with Carnegie Bank, told United Press International that other companies won’t raise their sales force levels as a response. “That’s because their competitors…already have more sales reps than Novo. Eli Lilly might increase to support Byetta…But so far, that launch has been incredible, so they'll only increase if there's a slow-down.”