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CLAYTON, N.C. – Danish drug maker said Tuesday its first quarter profit soared 23 percent, helped by increased sales of its core insulin products.

That’s good news for the company’s production plant in Clayton, which produces insulin related products.

The world’s top producer of insulin said net profit in the January to March period reached $595 million, up 23 percent from the same period in 2009.

Approximately 400 employees work at the Clayton facility. It focuses on formulation, aseptic filling, packaging and distribution of insulin products. The plant covers 264 acres

Sales increased by 9 percent to 13.7 billion kroner ($2.45 billion) from 12.5 billion kroner.

"We are encouraged by the solid business performance in the first quarter of 2010. The increasing use of our modern insulins is the primary driver of growth," Chief Executive Lars Rebien Soerensen said.

Rebien Soerensen added the launch of new diabetes drug Victoza in Europe was "progressing well" in the United States and Europe.

License fees and other operating income were 224 million kroner ($40.15 million), up from 87 million kroner in the first three months of 2009. The development is primarily driven by income from Novo Nordisk’s portfolio of intellectual property including a non-recurring income of approximately 100 million kroner related to a settlement, the group said.

Novo Nordisk upgraded its forecast for operating profit growth in 2010 to "more than 10 percent," from an earlier forecast of "around 10 percent."