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100 years Insulin and a century of quality for Novo Nordisk

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Insulin is well-known as the basic requirement to treat diabetes, but did you know that insulin was first discovered in 1921 by Frederick Banting, J.J.R. Macleod, Charles Best and James Collip. The first successful insulin injection was delivered to a boy named, Leonard Thompson, as the world's first patient with type 1 diabetes, in 1922.

John Dawber, Vice President and General Manager of Novo Nordisk Pharma Thailand, said January 23, 1922, or today 100 years ago, was a life-changing day in a history of diabetes patients around the world. Without the discovery of insulin, the future treatment of Diabetes was unknown and unpredictable, with very poor outcomes for patients.

And ever since insulin was discovered in 1921, Novo Nordisk has been inspired to work to change the lives of patients living with Diabetes. Founded in 1923, Novo Nordisk now has offices in more than 170 countries. We have more than 44,000 Novo Nordisk people around the world, of which we employ about 200 Novo Nordisk people in Thailand.

“A journey of insulin, today recognises 100 years for diabetes treatment, and Novo Nordisk is entering the century of diabetes healthcare as well”

Insulin, was originally harvested and purified from pigs and cows, is even still today delivered by an injection under the skin. Since 1921 and during the next 30 years up to the 1950’s the work of researchers focussed on purification of the insulinand increasing the time in between each injection.

100 years Insulin and a century of quality for Novo Nordisk

During the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s the innovation moved towards understanding the relationship between blood glucose levels, insulin levels and studying the links between diabetes control and long-term outcomes.

The 1980’s was a huge decade for people with diabetes as the first recombinant technology “human” insulin was made available, and the big old-fashioned syringe was replaced with a “pen”. Even today, 40 years later, human insulin remains the mainstay of treatment for millions of people around the world.

The 1990’s continued the pace of innovation with the first “designer insulins” or insulin analogues being developed. These insulins had action profiles which were smoother, more predictable, were either faster acting or slower acting depending on the patients need, and thus improved quality of life, and diabetes outcomes.

For Novo Nordisk, this journey continues. The company continue to innovate with research projects and still believe that there is much more to achieve to improve the lives of people with diabetes who use insulin. The company hope in the future to develop insulins which can further improve the quality of life for people living with Diabetes by making insulin use easier, safer and even less cumbersome.

100 years Insulin and a century of quality for Novo Nordisk

Additionally, Novo Nordisk recognize that in many parts of the world, people to not have access to quality care or insulin, like we have in Thailand. Therefore, recently Novo Nordisk enrolled the 30,000th child in our Changing Diabetes in Children programme, which provides the complete diabetes care for kids in the least developed countries around the world. 

In Novo Nordisk Pharma (Thailand) in 2020, we organized a fundraising event to help children with type 1 diabetes in Thailand in remote areas, which provided 1 Million THB to support necessary expenses for diabetes treatment, some educational scholarships for university through the Action4diabetes Foundation (A4D).

100 years Insulin and a century of quality for Novo Nordisk

Finally, many people may have heard of Team Novo Nordisk. Team Novo Nordisk are a professional Cycling team who ALL live with Type 1 Diabetes. The team is sponsored by Novo Nordisk. They compete at the highest level of professional cycling, all over the world. Their mission is to Educate, Empower and Inspire kids, families, and Healthcare professionals everywhere, that living with Diabetes should not stop anyone from achieving their dreams. Novo Nordisk Pharma Thailand hope to welcome Team Novo Nordisk to race here in Thailand soon, and thus further spread their message of empowerment for people living with Type 1 Diabetes.

Novo Nordisk want to drive change to overcome diabetes and other serious chronic diseases. We have a great responsibility for the quality of our products, honesty, business ethics and sustainability of the environment. As Novo Nordisk are taking part in the daily care of over 30 million patients around the world and we are the manufacturer of insulin for around half the people taking insulin in the world, the company take their responsibilities very seriously.

Published : January 24, 2022