February 1, 2019 / 7:15 AM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Drugmaker Novo Nordisk fourth-quarter profit lags forecast

(Adds detail, outlook)

COPENHAGEN, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Novo Nordisk on Friday reported lower than forecast fourth-quarter operating profit and said it would submit its oral semaglutide drug, a potential future growth driver, for U.S. approval in the first quarter.

With its established insulin medicines facing price pressures in the United States and expiring patents, Novo Nordisk is pinning hopes for growth on a once-weekly injection and tablet version of its GLP-1 drug semaglutide for diabetes, as well as anti-obesity treatments.

Novo said it would use a so-called priority review voucher when submitting its oral semaglutide drug for U.S. approval around the end of this quarter to speed up the process.

Novo said it expected 2019 sales growth of 2-5 percent and operating profit growth of 2-6 percent, both measured in local currencies. The outlook is seen respectively 2 and 4 percentage points higher in Danish crowns.

Novo, the world's top maker of diabetes drugs, reported fourth-quarter operating profit of 10.8 billion Danish crowns ($1.66 billion), below an average 11.3 billion crowns forecast in a Reuters poll of analysts.. ($1 = 6.5248 Danish crowns) (Reporting by Stine Jacobsen; Editing by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen and Jane Merriman)

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