Novo Nordisk has broken ground on a new manufacturing facility in Kalundborg, Denmark, that will produce liraglutide, a potential new product for treating type 2 diabetes.
The company is spending DK 800 million (€107m) on the new plant, which is scheduled for completion in 2005 and will create about 100 new jobs in Kalundborg.
This is the second major expansion at Kalundborg by the Danish company in a year - last July it inaugurated the world's largest insulin facility there - set up at a cost of DK 2.5 billion - and started building an insulin purification plant. Once the new facility is in operation, Novo Nordisk will employ about 2,200 people in Kalundborg.
In addition, earlier this year Novo Nordisk said it will invest €218 million in a plant to manufacture insulin in Chartres, France, one of the group's largest investments outside its home market.
Diabetes care products account for approximately 70 per cent of the company's total turnover of DK 25.2 billion, with the lion's share of this total coming from its insulin franchise.
Liraglutide is a derivative of glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1), a natural human hormone, and represents a new principle in the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Studies have shown that the new product lowers blood glucose with little or no risk of inducing hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose). It is also expected to affect appetite regulation leading to weight management. Liraglutide may also be able to regenerate insulin-producing cells (beta cells).
The product has completed Phase II clinical trials, and Phase III trials are expected to be initiated in the second half of this year.
The incidence of diabetes in has been rising at an alarming rate in recent years. There are currently around 150 million people with the disease worldwide, but this figure is expected to double over the next 25 years, far outstripping population growth, and ensuring a continuing strong demand for diabetes treatments.