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Novo Nordisk launches international foundation to help combat diabetes in developing countries

Copenhagen, Denmark , 13 November 2001 - Novo Nordisk today announced a decision to establish an international foundation - the World Diabetes Foundation (WDF) - with the purpose of supporting projects that will improve diabetes care in developing countries.

Subject to shareholder approval at its Annual General Meeting in March 2002, Novo Nordisk will donate approximately DKK 500 million (approximately EUR 67 million) to the WDF over the next ten years for implementation of projects.

The WDF is part of a broader Novo Nordisk initiative known as LEAD - Leadership in Education and Access to Diabetes care - which aims to improve diabetes care in developing countries.

Already today, the number of people with diabetes in these countries has passed 100 million, and the World Health Organisation (WHO) predicts that this number is likely to increase to 'epidemic' levels of more than 230 million by 2025. Population growth and longer life expectancy, coupled with rapid urbanisation and a more unhealthy lifestyle are at the root of this development.

Lars Rebien Sørensen, president & CEO of Novo Nordisk, says:

"As the world's leading diabetes care company, Novo Nordisk confronts these problems every day. If left unattended, hundreds of millions of people will suffer, and already strained healthcare systems will be faced with insurmountable problems. Both our own people and doctors who work in developing countries have raised the red flag and told us that special measures must be taken urgently, if the diabetes problem is to be prevented from spinning out of control. It is in this light that the WDF should be seen."

The LEAD initiative

Novo Nordisk's LEAD initiative is based on partnership programmes with governments, international NGOs and local diabetes associations. Among these projects is a programme aimed at helping governments create national strategies for dealing with diabetes, and a project which analyses the critical success factors for providing sustainable diabetes care in the poorest countries.

"Our commitment to improving diabetes care in developing countries focuses on four areas above and beyond our traditional role as a pharmaceutical company that develops and markets medicines," says Lars Rebien Sørensen:

  • We will share the knowledge and experience we have accumulated over 75 years regarding the prevention and treatment of diabetes.
  • We will assist in developing the necessary capacity of local health systems in dealing with the disease, through training and education programmes.
  • We will offer our insulin products to the public health systems in the poorest countries at prices not to exceed 20% of the average price in North America, Europe and Japan.
  • We will use the WDF as a means to increase financial support to the healthcare systems of the poorest countries with regard to diabetes care.

Professor Sir George Alberti, president of the Royal College of Physicians, UK, and current president of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), said: "It is extremely important that one of the leading companies in diabetes care has shown the way with real action. We have had many expressions of concern from companies and organisations. The patient associations around the world, which IDF represents, have been vocal on the subject. But the only results so far have been a great deal of good will and some piecemeal projects. Novo Nordisk's initiative tackles the issues of diabetes care in the developing countries in a complete fashion, we hope many others will follow."

Novo Nordisk's commitment to sustainable development and the 'triple bottom line' is at the root of the company's LEAD initiative. The 'triple bottom line' perspective on company performance combines the traditional focus on financial results with a focus on environmental and social factors that influence the long-term growth opportunities for the company, and ensures the company's continued 'licence to operate'

Financial implications

The formation of the WDF and the contribution from Novo Nordisk of about DKK 50 million in 2001 will not impact Novo Nordisk's expectations for the financial results for 2001.

Novo Nordisk's future contributions will be expensed over the ten-year period the commitment is running. The four long-term financial targets that were announced by the company in February this year remain unchanged.

Facts about the WDF

  • The overall objective of the WDF is to improve diabetes care in developing countries by supporting, financially and otherwise, projects aimed at increasing awareness and knowledge of diabetes; preventing, diagnosing and treating diabetes; educating and training health professionals; improving distribution of medicine; improving access to proper diabetes care.
  • The foundation will be established in Denmark as a registered trust. The board will consist of leading diabetes specialists, NGO representatives and representatives of Novo Nordisk. There will be 6-10 board members of which 2-3 will be from Novo Nordisk.
  • Requests for project funding from NGOs, diabetes organisations or companies will be entertained. Projects will be evaluated by the secretariat based on criteria to be established by the board. Projects meeting the criteria will be presented to the board for consideration for funding.
  • Apart from contributions from Novo Nordisk A/S, the WDF will seek to raise additional resources from other sources.
  • Pending shareholder approval, the foundation is expected to be operational by mid-March 2002, shortly after Novo Nordisk's Annual General Meeting.

Novo Nordisk (NYSE:NVO) is a focused healthcare company and world leader in diabetes care. In addition, Novo Nordisk has a leading position within areas such as coagulation disorders, growth disorders and hormone replacement therapy. Novo Nordisk manufactures and markets pharmaceutical products and services that make a significant difference to patients, the medical profession and society. With headquarters in Denmark, Novo Nordisk employs approximately 16,000 people in 68 countries and markets its products in 179 countries. For further company information visit

Background Material:

World Diabetes Foundation: Developing Sustainable Solutions For Diabetes Care in the Developing World.
( 87 kb)
Leif Fenger, World Diabetes Secretariat November 2001

For further information please contact:


Outside North America:
Mike Rulis
Phone (direct): (+45) 4442 3573

In North America:
Susan Jackson
Phone (direct): (+1) 609 919 7776


Outside North America:
Peter Haahr
Phone (direct): (+45) 4442 1207

Palle Holm Olesen
Phone (direct): (+45) 4442 6175

In North America:
Rasmus Jorgensen
Phone (direct): (+1) 212 878 9607

World Business Council for Sustainable Development International Chamber of Commerce