Novo Nordisk celebrates 90 years of diabetes innovation

Feb 19, 2013, 07:59 ET from Novo Nordisk Canada Inc.

Global leader in diabetes care recognizes anniversary of Canadian roots

MISSISSAUGA, ON, Feb. 19, 2013 /CNW/ - Danish-based pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk is celebrating the 90th anniversary of when diabetes patients were first treated with the company's insulin. With its Canadian headquarters in Mississauga, the company is focused on developing new and better treatments for people with diabetes. Now the world's largest diabetes care company, Novo Nordisk provides therapeutic treatments for an estimated 23 million people with diabetes worldwide and produces approximately 50 per cent of all insulin in the world.

Novo Nordisk's Canadian roots run deep and can be traced back to the University of Toronto, where Sir Frederick Banting and Charles Best first discovered insulin in 1921. In 1923, Nobel-prize winning physiologist Dr. August Krogh was granted permission from Banting and Best to produce insulin in Denmark, founding Nordisk Insulinlaboratorium - the company now known as Novo Nordisk.

Since firmly establishing itself in Canada in 1983, Novo Nordisk has earned an enviable reputation for corporate achievement, emerging as Canada's market leading diabetes company. Novo Nordisk has been named among the fastest growing Top 20 Canadian research-based pharmaceutical companies, and has earned the distinction of being a Top Employer in the Greater Toronto Area.

"Ninety years ago, our commitment to helping those living with diabetes began, shaping Novo Nordisk into the world leading diabetes company it is today," said Vince Lamanna, President, Novo Nordisk Canada Inc. "It is important to recognize and celebrate our roots as we move forward, striving for new innovations and advancements that help build a healthy future for Canadians, and people around the world."

The beginning of Novo Nordisk
During a visit to the United States in 1922, Dr. August Krogh and his wife, Marie - a medical doctor living with diabetes - learned of the discovery of insulin in Canada. Marie urged her husband to meet with Professor John James Rickard Macleod at the University of Toronto, who was leading the team of researchers behind the discovery. August and Marie returned to Copenhagen in December 1922, bringing with them a desire to start insulin production in Scandinavia. A few months later, production was up and running and the first patients were treated at a hospital in Copenhagen. This was the beginning of what Novo Nordisk is today.

Since then, the company has pioneered many important advances in diabetes treatment including human insulin (1982) and the world's first insulin pen, NovoPen® (1985). Later it developed several modern insulins (insulin analogues with improved properties) and is now also the leader in a new class of diabetes treatments - GLP-1 therapies. In parallel, Novo Nordisk has applied the skills it has built within diabetes on developing biopharmaceutical products for treatment of hemophilia, growth disorders and women's health.

Novo Nordisk's largest shareholder is the Novo Nordisk Foundation, a Danish Foundation, which provides a stable basis for the company's activities and supports humanitarian and scientific purposes.

Making a Difference
At Novo Nordisk, patients are the priority. Novo Nordisk programs are making positive and lasting contributions in countries around the world, as well as right here in communities across Canada:

  • In 1994, Novo Nordisk becomes one of the first companies in the world to publish an environmental report.
  • In 2002, Novo Nordisk founded the World Diabetes Foundation, which has grown into a leading international funding agency supporting grassroots initiatives in the area of diabetes prevention and care in the developing world.
  • In 2005, Novo Nordisk partnered with the Ontario Physical and Health Education Association to teach kids about the importance of physical activity and healthy eating as a way to prevent diabetes.
  • In 2006, Novo Nordisk joined the International Diabetes Federation and the Unite for Diabetes campaign to successfully pass a UN resolution recognizing World Diabetes Day.
  • In 2006, Novo Nordisk is the tenth company in the world to join the World Wildlife Fund Climate Savers initiative, committing to reduce carbon emissions by 10 per cent by 2014.
  • In 2007, the Changing Diabetes® world bus tour visits Canadian cities to raise awareness of diabetes.
  • In 2008, Novo Nordisk partnered with JDRF Canada and the Canadian Diabetes Association to help Canadians mark World Diabetes Day, an important annual initiative that raises awareness of diabetes in communities across Canada and around the world.

About Diabetes in Canada
More than three million Canadians are living with diabetes, a number that is expected to increase reach 3.7 million by 2020.1

About Novo Nordisk Canada Inc.
Novo Nordisk is a healthcare company and a world leader in diabetes care and biopharmaceuticals. Novo Nordisk manufactures and markets pharmaceutical products and services that make a significant difference to patients, the medical profession and society. Novo Nordisk's business is driven by the Triple Bottom Line: a commitment to economic success, environmental soundness, and social responsibility to employees and customers. For more information, visit

1 Canadian Diabetes Association. "The prevalence and costs of diabetes." Accessed on February 8, 2013 at


SOURCE Novo Nordisk Canada Inc.