Novo Nordisk CEO sees limited scope for US price increases
Novo Nordisk A/S expects that raising prices in the U.S. will become more challenging and and is banking on the introduction of a key new drug this month to grow in the world's biggest pharmaceutical market.
Chief Executive Officer Lars Rebien Soerensen says the the Bagsvaerd, Denmarkbased drugmaker has seen a change in the environment in the U.S. List price increases there will be "very limited" and will likely be offset by demands for rebates by payers, he told reporters on a conference call Wednesday.
Novo, the world's largest maker of insulin, reported fourth-quarter earnings that missed analysts' estimates on Wednesday as it spent more to promote new drugs and one of its top three products suffered from competi- tion and higher rebates.
"The main driver to the top-line will be the introduction of new drugs," he said. "Typically, in the beginning of their introductions, they require less rebates, and as they approach patent expirations, they increase over time." In Novo's case, that means winning a premium price for its new insulin Tresiba is a priority. To that end, the company is trying to differentiate the product from competitors'. Last week, Novo said a study comparing the drug with Sanofi's best-seller Lantus showed that Tresiba was better at lowering rates of abnormally low blood sugar events, known as hypoglycemia. Still, the difference is modest and it's unclear whether the benefit will be recognized by payers in discussions on reimbursement, according to Jo Walton, an analyst at Credit Suisse Group AG.