Novo Nordisk A/S

Stock Exchange: XCSE • Ticker: NOVOB • HQ: Bagsværd, Denmark • Employees: 41,122

Ranking by technical area
Ranking by strategic pillar


Novo Nordisk has fallen in this Index, yet remains in the top ten. It maintains solid access management structures and compliance systems, but drops across other areas of measurement. It has a small relevant pipeline, and engages little in collaborative R&D. Its equitable pricing strategies only cover human insulin products, representing 27% of its portfolio for diseases in scope. Novo Nordisk has one structured donation programme, which is limited in geographic and population scope. It now publishes the statuses of its patents, but has yet to agree a non-exclusive voluntary licence for one of its patented products. In Capacity Building, the company no longer leads but remains strong overall.

Change since 2014

Has leading access management structures in place, supported by two systems for tracking and assessing access-related performance.

Launched Cities Changing Diabetes in 2014, a partnership programme designed to identify and address the root causes of the rise of type 2 diabetes in urban areas.

Has not been found in breach of laws or regulations related to marketing and corruption since 2014.

Has improved its accountability for its sales agents’ pricing practices.

Has equitable pricing strategies for the same human insulin products as in 2014 but has updated its commitment to providing low-priced human insulin, to include more countries and humanitarian organisations.

Publishes information about all patents held worldwide.

Launched the No Empty Shelves partnership with PATH in 2014 to identify capacity gaps in supply chain management for diabetes medicines and technologies in low- and middle-income countries.

Expands Changing Diabetes in Children donation programme, enrolling five additional countries in 2016.


Work with partners to address access concerns for non-communicable diseases more broadly. Novo Nordisk can leverage its expertise in diabetes to support public and/or private partners in strengthening care for different non-communicable diseases.

Expand strong capacity building approach. Novo Nordisk can expand its capacity building activities and target local needs and skills gaps more strategically (e.g., in its R&D partnerships in China and Iran). The company can also share information with local stakeholders to help strengthen supply chains and pharmacovigilance systems.

Ensure sustainable access to insulin. In addition to its pricing strategy for human insulin, Novo Nordisk can implement new measures to support sustainable and affordable access to new diabetes treatments (including insulin analogues) that are suitable for people in low- and middle-income countries. It can assess local needs per population segment when customising pricing. It can implement registration commitments to prioritise those markets where the product is urgently needed.

Consider a company-wide approach to voluntary licensing. Novo Nordisk can consider terms for voluntary licences of its patented innovative diabetes products (e.g., long-acting analogues such as insulin degludec (Tresiba®), a second-line treatment for diabetes) to permit generic medicine manufacturers to produce biosimilars. This can help address issues of affordability and supply. Considering the complexity of biosimilar production, the company can consider additional technology transfer and support.

Use stakeholder engagement to inform its R&D priorities. Novo Nordisk can apply its existing model of engaging with health care professionals to ensure R&D priorities are based on the needs of patients in low- and middle-income countries. This includes ensuring specific access plans are in place for candidates currently in the pipeline (e.g., for its candidate oral formulation of insulin).

Sales and operations

Novo Nordisk operates in two divisions: Diabetes & Obesity Care, and Biopharmaceuticals. The company is active in five product areas: diabetes care, haemophilia, growth hormone therapy, obesity and hormone replacement therapy. Novo Nordisk has sales in 79 countries in scope, and over 20% of its sales come from emerging and frontier markets.

Sales in countries in scope
Sales by division
Sales by region

Portfolio and pipeline

Novo Nordisk has the smallest relevant portfolio in the Index, with 11 medicines. It has a small pipeline of four R&D projects that address the needs of people in countries in scope. Its relevant portfolio and pipeline focus exclusively on diabetes.

Nine of its 11 medicines are insulins, including human insulin and insulin analogues. In 2015, its insulin degludec (Tresiba®) was approved for use by the FDA. Its remaining two products are liraglutide (Victoza®), a glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist, and repaglinide (Novonorm®), from the meglatidine therapeutic class.

Products per disease category

Novo Nordisk’s medicines all target diabetes: nine out of 11 are insulins and insulin analogues.

The company is developing four medicines, all in phase I clinical trials. These include a long-acting basal insulin analogue for once-weekly dosing, an appetite-regulating hormone peptide tyrosine and a liver-preferential prandial insulin analogue. The latter has progressed from discovery stage to phase I trials since 2014.

The company’s focus is on diabetes. It is not targeting high-priority product gaps with low commercial incentive, for diseases that disproportionately affect low- and middle-income countries.

Pipeline projects

Novo Nordisk’s relevant R&D projects are not being developed in partnership.

First-line treatments and essential medicines

Human insulin is Novo Nordisk’s only product on the WHO EML and/or listed as a first-line treatment. The company has two human insulins in its portfolio.

Pipeline by stage of development
– Innovative medicines and vaccines

Novo Nordisk’s pipeline focuses on innovative medicines. It is developing a daily oral insulin tablet that will not require refrigeration, potentially improving access to insulin in settings without stable cold chains.

Pipeline by stage of development
– Adaptive medicines and vaccines

Novo Nordisk is not currently adapting any products to meet the needs of people living in low- or middle-income countries.

Please refer to the pdf of the report card (that can be downloaded here) for information on Novo Nordisk’s performance per technical area.

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