Pharmaceutical giant Novo Nordisk has announced plans to become one of the first companies to successfully develop oral insulin treatments for patients with diabetes.
The world’s largest insulin producer told Reuters that it plans to invest up to 20 billion Danish Krone (£2.26 billion) on the development of insulin tablets as a replacement for traditional insulin injections.
The Danish company said it has a 500-employee team committed to developing six oral insulin products, and an oral GLP-1 agonist drug between now and 2020, by which time it predicts the global market for tablet diabetes medication could be worth more than £11.2 billion a year.
If successful, the insulin tablets would offer a much-welcome alternative for insulin-dependent diabetic patients who are either scared of injections or have developed scarring at the injection site, making it more difficult for insulin to be effective at regulating levels of blood sugar.
The main challenge facing Novo Nordisk is to find a way of getting the insulin through the body’s digestive system and into the bloodstream, a process which so far has proved elusive for researchers involved in the development of tablet insulin.

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