The Novo Nordisk stock has risen more than 200% over the past five years. That trend is likely to persist, as most analysts uphold a buy recommendation. Celebrating its 100-year anniversary this year, the Danish company has skilfully reinvented itself over the past century. Novo Nordisk’s story begins in 1923, when Nobel Prize winner for Medicine August Krogh and his wife Marie, herself a diabetic, returned from Canada with the patent for insulin They founded Nordisk Insulinlaboratorium, which later became Novo Nordisk, to manufacture and commercialise the precious hormone in Europe.
Over the years, the company has developed a wide range of insulins for different treatments (long-acting, rapid-acting, ultra-rapid), evolving into the undisputed leader of diabetes management. Novo Nordisk currently dominates over 40% of the market, ahead of the French firm Sanofi and the US pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly. But it has not stopped at this surefire revenue stream. The group has instead expanded while remaining focused on diabetes. In 1985, the company introduced the first insulin pen and in 1999 one of the first continuous glucose monitoring device approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which, however, required a needle to monitor blood glucose levels. The company now sells its own connected systems. In a context of mounting pressure on insulin prices, Novo Nordisk has also reduced its reliance on the hormone by launching a new class of type 2 diabetes drugs. These GLP-1 analogues are now its biggest money-maker, ahead of insulin. In 2021, the FDA approved one of Novo Nordisk’s GLP-1s, Wegovy, as a weight loss treatment. This is expected to open up an even bigger market for the Danish pharma than diabetes, considering that the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates there are almost one billion obese adults and teens worldwide.