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Novo Nordisk celebrates 90 years of insulin

Hip hip hooray! Happy 90th birthday to Novo Nordisk, one of South Africa’s favourite insulin manufacturers. Here’s what they have to say about the momentous occassion:

Novo Nordisk

Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk has recently celebrated the completion of 90 years since the first diabetes patients were treated with the company’s insulin.
Ever since, the company has been focused on developing new and better treatments for people with diabetes and is today 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.

Dr. Timmy Kedijang, the General Manager of Novo Nordisk South Africa says “expanding waistlines are causing an epidemic of Type 2 diabetes around the world, and lifestyle management is as important as appropriate medical treatment.”

The company’s story began in 1921, shortly after a team of scientists in Canada discovered insulin. Dr Marie Krogh – a Danish medical doctor and scientist who had Type 2 diabetes herself – was quick to realise the importance of this discovery. Marie and August Krogh set up a foundation called Nordisk Insulinlaboratorium, and made this the company’s majority shareholder in order to secure its independence. The foundation was also used as a channel to provide grants for research and humanitarian purposes. A similar foundation was established in 1951 by Novo’s founders, Harald Petersen and Thorvald Pedersen, and the foundation-based business model has been maintained since the subsequent merger of the two companies.

With the merger of two Danish pioneering foundations (Novo and Nordisk) in 1989, it continues to be at the forefront of developing new insulin delivery systems and advocating for a holistic approach to preventing and managing diabetes.

“Approximately 371 million people worldwide are living with diabetes,” says Dr. Kedijang, “and this could rise to 550 million by 2030.
“At Novo Nordisk we therefore see our role not only as a provider of the very best treatment options, but also as a leader in facilitating access to lifestyle education and diabetes testing and treatment. Our founders set the bar very high, and we intend to keep raising it.”

The first few years and history have been condensed into this video – take a look!

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  1. mohamed mayet mohamed mayet

    Kindly advise if you have a nursing sister/dietician who can advise me about the use of Victoza.

    • Hi Mohamed,
      I’ll ask Novo Nordisk to get in touch with you directly about that.



    I use NOVO RAPID Insulien for the last 2 years and it’s working perfectly.My problem though is lately that the Pharmacy which I get my medicine from seems to battle to get stock in time.I use 3 vails per month but have to wait always for it to arrive.Do you have a number for me to phone the factory perhaps to find out what the problem is.
    Gert -0825582526

    • Hi Gert!
      How frustrating. Their head office in South Africa is in Joburg – you can call them on 011 202 0500
      Good luck!

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Sweet Life is a registered NPO/PBO (220-984) with a single goal: to improve diabetes in South Africa. We are funded by sponsorships and donations from aligned companies and organisations who believe in our work. We only share information that we believe benefits our community. While some of this information is linked to specific brands, it is not an official endorsement of that brand. We believe in empowering people with diabetes to make the best decisions they can, to live a healthy, happy life with diabetes.