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Drugmaker Novo Nordisk sales disappoint

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Drug maker Novo Nordisk expects lower U.S. prices next year. Reuters

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – Shares in Novo Nordisk fell yesterday after sales of some of its key drugs in the second quarter fell short of expectations and it said prices in the key US market would be lower next year.

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The world’s top maker of diabetes drugs has entered a period of slower growth partly due to pricing pressure on the US market, which accounts for about half of Novo’s total sales.

US President Donald Trump has made lowering the cost of prescription drugs an issue for his administration and on Tuesday said he would make an announcement next week on reducing prices.

Some drugmakers such as Pfizer Inc and Switzerland’s Novartis have said they would not follow through on planned increases in drug prices.

Novo Nordisk has no plans to follow suit and reverse list price increases announced in July, chief executive Lars Fruergaard Jorgensen told reporters, adding: “Neither do we have plans to raise the prices for the rest of the year”.

The company said that subject to the final outcome of negotiations with organisations who administer drug programmes for employers and health plans, accounting for the bulk of US drug sales, “average prices after rebates are expected to be lower compared with the levels in 2018”.

Drug manufacturers also face new US legislation next year aimed at reining in high drug prices. Novo Nordisk has said that the new rules would cut its 2019 sales by 1-2 percent.

Jorgensen quashed media reports that Novo is considering laying off up to 3,000 in response to the new legislation.

He said Novo was adapting its business on an ongoing basis but declined to provide further details on how it would mitigate the effects from price pressure and new regulation.

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