Desperate CEOs Fight to Boost Diabetes Business

Desperate CEOs Fight to Boost Diabetes Business

March 28th, 2013 // 3:56 pm @

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Eager to boost its diabetes business, Novo Nordisk has been quick to hire spokespeople to tout its products and franchises. Last year, this strategy bruised its image, though, when the drugmaker secured Paula Dean, the self-professed Queen of Southern Cuisine (click here). And recently, Novo pilfered professional cyclist Phil Southerland, a Type1 diabetic who was a Sanofi pitchman for six years.

The cyclist was given a contract worth several million dollars and last month his smiling face adorned the cover of the most recent annual report. Not only that, but his crew is now called Team Novo Nordisk and the switch underscores not only how aggressive Novo has become in reaching the diabetic public, but also its willingness to toss sharp elbows at Sanofi, Bloomberg News writes.

Sanofi, meanwhile, recently filed a lawsuit against Novo in Germany over an advertisement that suggests its own Lantus medication can cause more weight gain. Then, the ceo of each drugmaker traded barbs on conference calls, the news service adds. Why? The world’s two largest providers of insulin are fighting over an increasingly crowded diabetes market worth some $35 billion, the news service  notes in a nice look at a fierce rivalry.

The tension comes as competition emerges from rivals who have struck ventures, such as Eli Lilly (LLY) and Boehringer Ingelheim, and another between Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY) and AstraZeneca (AZN), which teamed last year to purchase Amylin Pharmaceuticals and a diabetes product line that includes Byetta and Bydureon.

“I don’t think it’s a particularly healthy situation,” Sanofi ceo Chris Viehbacher tells Bloomberg when asked about the rivalry. “We should be…

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