Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk is rolling in profits, thanks to strong sales of its new diabetes drugs. Novo Nordisk is the world’s largest insulin manufacturer. It also makes non-insulin medications to treat type 2 diabetes including Victoza, a new treatment that is being promoted by Southern celebrity cookbook author Paula Deen.
Deen caught a lot of flack when she announced earlier this year that she had been diagnosed three years ago with type 2 diabetes. Deen’s Southern-fried and sugar-filled recipes are prime examples of the kinds of foods that contribute to the country’s growing obesity and diabetes epidemic. But what prompted Deen to come forward was a deal she had signed with Novo Nordisk to promote Victoza.
Not only is Novo Nordisk benefiting from its alliance with Deen, but the partnership apparently has been lucrative for Deen as well. The celebrity chef’s earnings this past year reached an estimated $17 million, making her the fourth-highest earning chef, according to Forbes magazine.
Drug companies that push diabetes medications continue to bring in profits, but it’s the price diabetics pay that have some questioning what measures drug companies will take to drive sales. Lawsuits have been filed against the makers of type 2 diabetes drugs Avandia and Actos from people who say the drugs caused them or a family member serious injury or death, and that the drug companies knew of the dangers of the medications but failed to adequately warn consumers.
In 2010, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) severely restricted the use of Avandia after studies showed the drug was linked to fatal heart attacks. The next year, the FDA issued a warning that Actos had been linked to bladder cancer.
Novo Nordisk is reporting a 29 percent net profit increase in the second quarter of 2012, primarily spurred by strong sales of its new diabetes drugs.