‘World’s best CEO’ to retire from Novo Nordisk

Lars Rebien Sørensen will step down as the head of pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk, the company announced on Thursday.

‘World’s best CEO’ to retire from Novo Nordisk
Lars Rebien Sørensen has been with Novo for 35 years. Photo: Søren Bidstrup/Scanpix
The Bagsværd-based firm said that Sørensen, who was declared the world’s top-performing CEO in a global ranking from the Harvard Business Review, would abandon his position by the end of 2016.
He will be replaced by Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen, the company’s current executive vice president. 
Sørensen has been with Novo Nordisk for 35 years and has been at the company’s helm for 16. 
During that time, the company has grown to become the world’s largest maker of insulin, controlling 47 percent of the global market for insulin products. 
The company has performed particularly well on the North American market, which accounted for 61 percent of Novo Nordisk’s growth in 2014. The company’s presence in the US was further boosted after the Food and Drug Administration approved Novo Nordisk's obesity drug Saxenda
“It has been an honour to work here for more than 30 years and to serve as CEO during a period where we have been able to grow our business, build a strong pipeline and launch important new products to the benefit of our patients, our shareholders and our employees,” Sørensen said in a statement. 
Jørgensen said he was “proud and humble” to take over the reins.
“On the one hand, Novo Nordisk has never had a stronger portfolio and organisation; on the other hand, we are facing an unprecedented level of payer pressure and competition. I love challenges, and therefore I can't think of a more exciting time to be offered the job of CEO in Novo Nordisk – a company I have served for more than 25 years and am really passionate about,” he said. 

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Novo Nordisk sees increased profits despite pandemic

Denmark's Novo Nordisk, the world's number one producer of insulin, on Wednesday reported an eight percent bump to net profits in 2020 despite the pandemic leading to a drop in new patients.

Novo Nordisk sees increased profits despite pandemic
Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

In line with analysts' expectations, the company recorded an annual net profit of 42.1 billion Danish kroner (5.6 billion euros).

Revenue came in at 126.9 billion kroner, up four percent compared to a year earlier, not counting currency effects, driven by sales of GLP-1 products for treating diabetes.

According to Novo Nordisk, the company claimed 47.2 percent of the global market for insulin in November 2020, and 39.4 percent of the US market, which is the drugmaker's single largest market.

The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) estimates that there are over 425 million diabetics in the world, a number expected to top 629 million by 2045 as changing diets and lifestyles provoke the condition whereby the effectiveness of naturally produced insulin is reduced and people cannot convert sugar in their bloodstream for use as energy, causing health problems such as heart disease, vision loss and kidney disease.

However, only half of people with diabetes are currently diagnosed and of those only half are receiving treatment, according to the IDF, which says an estimated four million people die from the disease and the health complications it causes every year.

The Covid-19 pandemic cut into the number of people receiving help, according to Novo Nordisk.

“During the period of social distancing implemented in many markets, fewer new patients are initiating treatment,” said the company.

Novo Nordisk also develops and markets treatments for haemophilia and growth disorders, where sales fell by four percent and increased by six percent respectively, not counting currency effects.

Sales of its anti-obesity medicines, mainly Saxenda, increased by three percent.

In 2021, Novo Nordisk expects sales to grow by five to nine percent and operating profit to increase by four to eight percent.

In the early hours of trading on the Copenhagen stock exchange, shares in Novo Nordisk were up 4.6 percent.

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