As part of a bid to expand its 40% share of the worldwide diabetes market, Novo Nordisk will dispatch sales reps to four out of five U.S. doctors who prescribe diabetes drugs.
That might be difficult, however, as the Danish company already sells to 60% of U.S. doctors and will have to call on smaller medical practices to reach its goal of 80%, according to the report in The Wall Street Journal.
Meanwhile, rivals are marketing or developing products faster. Novo Nordisk expects to launch Levemir, a long-acting insulin analog, in 2006. But Lantus, a long-acting insulin analog from Sanofi-Aventis, already has a 25% share of U.S. insulin sales, the article points out.
Lehman Brothers said it expects Levemir will eventually eclipse Lantus in sales but not until 2010.
Byetta, from Eli Lilly and Amylin Pharmaceuticals, poses another challenge. The drug, which reduces anti-insulin hormones in patients, was approved in April. Novo Nordisk has a similar treatment in its pipeline, but the WSJ report notes that analysts don't expect it to launch until 2009.
Sanofi-Aventis and Pfizer have partnered to launch an inhaled insulin. Novo Nordisk won't have such a product for several years.