Embedding Sustainability at Novo Nordisk: The Compassion Vs Competitiveness Dilemma




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Background Note

Novo Nordisk, a global leader in insulin, was formed in 1989 through the merger of two Danish companies, Novo Industri A/S and Nordisk Gentofte A/S. Novo Nordisk’s roots can be traced to Nordisk Insulinlaboratorium, which was founded in 1923 to produce insulin. Novo Nordisk pioneered many breakthroughs in diabetes treatment. After the merger, Novo Nordisk A/S rolled out a lot of innovations like prefilled insulin syringes, oral treatment syringes, rapid acting insulin, etc.

By the late 1990s, it started focusing more on international markets. In 2000, Novo Nordisk A/S was demerged into three separate companies — Novo Nordisk A/S (Novo Nordisk), Novozymes A/S, and Novo A/S.After the demerger of Novo Nordisk A/S, Novo A/S was made the holding company of the Novo Group and was wholly-owned by the Novo Nordisk Foundation. Majority shares in both Novo Nordisk and Novozymes A/S were transferred to Novo A/S.

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While Novo Nordisk continued to focus on pharmaceutical products and services, the enzymes business of Novo Nordisk A/S was transferred to Novozymes A/S. In the decade that followed the demerger, Novo Nordisk expanded its business across the globe and emerged as a leading pharmaceutical company in the area of diabetes care. By 2011, Novo Nordisk employed 32,000 people in 75 countries and marketed its products in 190 countries. For the financial year 2011, Novo Nordisk’s revenue was Danish Kroner (DKK) 66.35 billion. It was placed 18th on the list of top pharmaceutical companies of the world by revenue.....

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