Diabetics panel poster

The statistics are stark: 1 in 10 adults globally live with diabetes currently, but within less than 25 years, this figure will rise to 1 in 8. Put another way, by 2045 over 780m adults are expected to be living with diabetes. Diabetes is associated with shorter life expectancy, and the correlation with other co-morbidities (such as cardiovascular disease and chronic kidney disease) is high. Further, 1 in 2 adults go undiagnosed.

None of this makes for cheery reading, but the good news is that there are companies trying to solve these challenges. Among these, Novo Nordisk – the source for the above data – stands at the forefront. We were in Denmark last week to meet with them (as well as some other businesses) and to learn what they’re up to. The key message we took away was that the “diabetes curve”, to paraphrase Novo, can only be “bent”, and the problem solved, through a combination of prevention via partnership, the provision of affordable access and ongoing innovation. We concur.

Begin with early prevention. Addressing childhood obesity is a priority. Novo reminded us that around 125m children live with obesity. The transition from childhood obesity to type-2 diabetes is unfortunately high. Against this background, Novo has partnered with UNICEF in an initiative called “Cities Changing Diabetes”, which works on the design of healthy food systems and the engagement of community organisations to help minimise the risks of chronic disease. Better food provision will only take you so far, and for existing people living with diabetes, affordability of access to drugs is crucial. Novo has set a $3 ceiling (previously it had been $4) for human insulin vials offered in 76 lower income countries globally. As a result, more than 5m patients were reached with access who might not otherwise have received it last year. This is encouraging, although there is still clearly more to be done.

Constant innovation lies at the heart of how we seek to understand every future trend we follow. There has been a continued focus at Novo in this respect, evidenced by its pipeline of products and its increasing use of digital solutions (often in partnership with other businesses, such as Abbott and Dexcom). Novo indicated at our meeting that the direction of travel for research and development spend was up. If bending the diabetes curve represents one important challenge, then using innovation to ensurebetter food provision represents another task for the world (albeit not for Novo): data from the United Nations serves to highlight that over 720m people globally face hunger, while a total of 2.3bn lack access to adequate food.    

9 March 2022

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The above does not constitute investment advice and is the sole opinion of the author at the time of publication. Heptagon Capital is an investor in Novo Nordisk. The author of this piece has no personal direct investment in the business. Past performance is no guide to future performance and the value of investments and income from them can fall as well as rise.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ 

Alex Gunz, Fund Manager

Photo taken by Heptagon, banner typo Novo Nordisk’s own

Disclaimers

The document is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute investment advice or any recommendation to buy, or sell or otherwise transact in any investments. The document is not intended to be construed as investment research. The contents of this document are based upon sources of information which Heptagon Capital LLP believes to be reliable. However, except to the extent required by applicable law or regulations, no guarantee, warranty or representation (express or implied) is given as to the accuracy or completeness of this document or its contents and, Heptagon Capital LLP, its affiliate companies and its members, officers, employees, agents and advisors do not accept any liability or responsibility in respect of the information or any views expressed herein. Opinions expressed whether in general or in both on the performance of individual investments and in a wider economic context represent the views of the contributor at the time of preparation. Where this document provides forward-looking statements which are based on relevant reports, current opinions, expectations and projections, actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in such statements. All opinions and estimates included in the document are subject to change without notice and Heptagon Capital LLP is under no obligation to update or revise information contained in the document. Furthermore, Heptagon Capital LLP disclaims any liability for any loss, damage, costs or expenses (including direct, indirect, special and consequential) howsoever arising which any person may suffer or incur as a result of viewing or utilising any information included in this document. 

The document is protected by copyright. The use of any trademarks and logos displayed in the document without Heptagon Capital LLP’s prior written consent is strictly prohibited. Information in the document must not be published or redistributed without Heptagon Capital LLP’s prior written consent. 

Heptagon Capital LLP, 63 Brook Street, Mayfair, London W1K 4HS
tel +44 20 7070 1800
email [email protected] 

Partnership No: OC307355 Registered in England and Wales Authorised & Regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority 

Heptagon Capital Limited is licenced to conduct investment services by the Malta Financial Services Authority.

Related Insights

Alzheimer’s: The final healthcare frontier
  • Featured Insights

Alzheimer’s: The final healthcare frontier

Season 6, Post 16: From golf course to warehouse
  • Featured Insights

Season 6, Post 16: From golf course to warehouse

Season 6, Post 14: My type of fish
  • Featured Insights

Season 6, Post 14: My type of fish

GET THE UPDATES

Sign up to our monthly email newsletter for the latest fund updates, webcasts and insights.