What will Novo Nordisk do about Paula Deen?

Will the company drop the Queen of Southern Cuisine because of new allegations of offensive remarks?

By Melly Alazraki Mar 12, 2012 2:53PM

Credit: © Paul Zimmerman/WireImage/Getty Images)
Caption: Paula DeenNovo Nordisk (NVO) is having Paula Deen trouble again. And this time it may not be as easy to explain away.

 

The company suffered a backlash less than two months ago for hiring the Southern belle as the public face of its new online program, Diabetes in a New Light. And just when the controversy was calming down, Deen and her brother were accused last week of racial and sexual harassment and abusive treatment by a former employee, Lisa Jackson.

 

Deen and her lawyers adamantly deny the charges, saying Jackson has pledged to ruin Deen's reputation if not paid a large sum of money. But the explosive behavior mentioned in the suit -- including the use of the N-word and requiring black employees to use a separate bathroom at a restaurant co-owned by Deen -- have done plenty of damage already, even if they turn out to be exaggerated or fabricated.

 

It's unclear what impact the latest Deen scandal will have on Novo Nordisk. But the celebrity chef is clearly overshadowing some of the work at one of the largest diabetes-treatment companies in the world.

 

A growing market

 

Nearly 26 million Americans have diabetes, with Type 2 diabetes accounting for 90% to 95% of cases, according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 84% take insulin and/or oral medication. The disease, which is the seventh-leading cause of death in the U.S., costs $174 billion annually. By 2050, it is projected a third of Americans could have diabetes.

 

In 2009, the U.S. diabetes market grew 17% from the year before, reaching $14.9 billion, according to data from health care information company IMS Health. With such growth, it's no wonder pharmaceuticals companies are eager to tap the market, with Novo Nordisk -- the world's largest maker of insulin -- among the leaders.

 

Novo Nordisk's non-insulin injectable  diabetes drug, Victoza, reached blockbuster status last year with sales jumping more than 150% to top $1 billion. Other drugmakers are developing treatments as well, and Victoza now has competition from the recently approved Bydureon, a once-weekly drug co-developed by Amylin Pharmaceuticals (AMLN) and Alkermes (ALKS). Victoza requires daily injections.

 

Novo Nordisk's stock has been on a roll recently, up about 22% this year and reaching new 52-week highs almost daily. It's not cheap, trading at 26 times trailing earnings. Of course, when you have a 45% to 50% of a global market that's expected to grow 9% a year, some would argue the valuation is warranted. The company certainly thinks so, as it just announced a share repurchase program. 

 

Previous controversy

 

The company has already taken so much flak for its choice of Deen as a public face. Sure, Deen has type 2 diabetes and uses Victoza for her disease. But Deen can also be easily crowned as the queen of uber-unhealthy cooking. She pretty much fries everything, and that's usually after already loading up on butter, lard, heavy cream and, you guessed it, sugar.

 

Since obesity is one of the causes of Type 2 diabetes, the public outrage was fierce. Deen was harshly criticized for keeping her diabetes a secret for three years while continuing to promote unhealthy cooking. She didn't disclose the disease, critics said, until she cemented the deal with Novo Nordisk. The matchup, to say the least, reeked like a windowless kitchen after frying some chicken. Can someone who fries cakes be a pitch person to fighting diabetes? Is it all good as long as you take the drug, people asked.

 

Deen has recently promised to lighten up her cooking, and she is likely doing her best to make the controversy disappear. So while some observers think the company may need to rethink its position on Deen amid the new lawsuit allegations, for now, Novo Nordisk appears to be standing by her.

142Comments
Mar 12, 2012 5:08PM
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I can't get over the big deal made about the fact that Paula Deen had diabetes and "never told anyone".  Her medical health issues are HER BUSINESS and no one else's.  Medical Records are confidential.  Why should she be obligated to tell the world she has a disease?  Do other chefs have to report their medical histories...if they have high cholesterol or high blood pressure for example?  Is any one asking Mario Batali why he is overweight and what his medical problems may be as a result??  If I were Paula Deen I would say...sorry folks but my medical records are mine and mine alone to know...if I 'FEEL" like divulging it I do it because I feel like it...not because you have a right to know.
Mar 12, 2012 5:12PM
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Why do people always dig up dirt on someone. Paula Deen is a very sweet woman and I do not believe half of the garbage I hear. So what, if she has Diabetes. That is her personal life and has nothing to do with the recipes she shares with millions of people. She does not need to tell anyone except her doctor about her medical problems. As for her discriminating against anyone, I bet there is someone out there drumming this mess up to make a few bucks. Leave the woman alone! It's her life and most people are just jealous and want the life she is now leading. I have enjoyed her since she started out and have had the opportunity to dine at one of her buffets in Mississippi. I happen to know what to eat and what not to eat.  There are a lot of things on her buffet as well as other buffets that I cannot eat due to my health, but I know that. I am responsible for myself and what I put in my mouth. Keep doing what you're doing Paula. I love it!!!
Mar 12, 2012 5:29PM
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I think its time that people start blaming themselves for being fat and quit blaming others. Paula is sharing her family recipes...and like she states, it can be changed to suit your own tastes. She does NOT tell you to LOAD UP ON BUTTER, SUGAR OR ANYTHING FOR THAT MATTER. She is not causing you to have Diabetes. Take responsibility for yourself.  If you are going to blame Paula Deen for you having Diabetes, well then shouldn't you also blame McDonalds, Pizza Hut, KFC, Taco Bell and all the fast food restaurants and other celebrity chefs as well?!

 

Leave Paula Deen alone and let her continue to be a positive role-model for society. She is NOT the creator of Diabetes.

Mar 12, 2012 6:57PM
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Nowhere does Paula say to eat her recipes every single day, every single meal.  Most of her cooking shows involve entertaining.  Anyone can eat her recipes...it's all about portion size and frequency.  I am sick of people blaming everyone but themselves.  Common sense says not to eat high fat, high sugar foods every day.
Mar 12, 2012 5:18PM
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5 comments- none about the article!

I just watched Paula on the Oprah network. and between her black workers and thereatment she gave Oprah and Gayle, if this woman is a racist, so was Martin Luther King.

The lawsuit has to be a lie

Mar 12, 2012 5:37PM
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Nobody shoves a fork in your mouth.  Take responsiblity for yourself.

Mar 12, 2012 5:23PM
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I certainly do NOT believe that Paula has an obligation to tell us any of her health issues. who the hell do we think we are??  I also dont believe stuff that others say about her all they want is her money.  People make me ill with the crap they think they have a right to know and that fact that everyone in this country is sue happy.  How long ago was this supposed to of happen? who cares if it wasnt important then it sure as hell is not important now, live your own lives and stay out of theirs I sure hope they stay out of mine 

Mar 12, 2012 5:51PM
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Paula Deen's medical information is none of anyone's business, and she doesn't have to reveal anything to anyone if she doesn't want to. Stop blaming her because YOU are fat and YOU are unhealthy.  Ever hear of personal responsibility??  Paula Deen is not and never has been a racist. This race thing is getting a little old, too. Sounds like the disgruntled former employee just wants money.

Mar 12, 2012 6:23PM
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@ Angie Wellbaum

When you order a dessert at a restaurant, do you then accuse the cook of trying to kill you? Don't you know going in that the dessert contains sugar, fat and loads of calories and carbohydrates??
Give me a break! Paula Deen offers Southern cooking recipes and tips.  How many of those we chose to cook and how often is up to us.  It's called personal liberty and personal responsibility. 
Ms. Deen doesn't owe the public the contents of her medical records either.  I know loads of people who eat the kind of food Ms. Deen is famous for who DON'T have diabetes.  It's up to us to be moderate in all things - - except common sense - a commodity in which our current "blame it all on someone else" culture seems to be deploringly deficit!

Mar 12, 2012 5:50PM
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I am sick and tired of the people that bash Paula Deen.  When you are diagnosed with diabetes it takes some getting used to, I know because my wife has fought this for years.  If you watch the cooking shows on the food network and Rachel Ray on ABC then you know Paula is not the only one that cook the extra large fattening stuff, almost all of the chefs do.  Also what about the Queen of Salt, when she cooks she uses salt by the handfulls.  Everything is about moderation and portion control and there are ways to make every receipe healthy.

Mar 12, 2012 6:38PM
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The article said Paula Deen and her brother were ACCUSED of racial and sexual harassment. Big deal. I wonder what the truth really is. Someone on this thread said "she is only in it for the money." That was pure wizardry to come up with that summation. And that person said that they hope she is dropped by her sponsor. Why? She makes great tasting, fun to eat, tremendously enjoyable, southern recipe food. I have never noticed her advertised as "Paula's Healthy, Holsome, Home, Cooked Diet Food for Diebetics." I am a diebetic myself yet I don't suffer the same anger issues you tend to demonstrate. Diebetes is a cruel desease and I hope that one day we find a cure. I hope you are never accused of anything by anyone. If you are will you consider yourself guilty until proven innocent? You don't have to you know. Our constitution says we don't.  She doesn't cook like you think she should so it is ok for you to discriminate. Oh, I get it now.

Mar 12, 2012 6:56PM
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Even though Paula cooks the way she does, she obviously doesn't eat that way all the time. Otherwise, she would be as big as Sam Choy and Art Smith got.  They've both lost weight and so has Paula. I read that she's dropped 2 pant sizes.

 

Besides, diet is only one factor in who gets diabetes. I am not as heavy as my brother and eat healthier than he does but I have diabetes and he doesn't.

 

I personally don't believe the accusations. This is only one person coming forward after how many years that Paula has been in business?

 

Bobby Deen has a new show on the Food Network called "Not My Momma's Meals". He takes some of Paula's most fattening recipes and drastically cuts the fat and calories.

 

truthhurts402:  I believe that Jamie and Bobby Deen run one of Paula's restaurants.  They work for her but are not "dependant" on her like she's supporting them or something. Plus, they do their own work for the Food Network.

Mar 12, 2012 5:58PM
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Would someone please tell me why Paula Deen or anyone else, has to tell the world about their medical condition??
 People who are diabetic work in stores demonstrating greasy, sugary foods everyday, and they sell those foods. Check out some of the big "wholesale club" stores where they do free samples to customers all day long. Should they put up a sign telling the folks who gorge themselves on the free samples that the servers have diabetes, if they do? 
This reminds me of the stupidity of the tv show, "The View" where they so horribly criticized Star Jones for not 
telling the world that she had bypass surgery before she was ready to do so.
Is there anything such as freedom to keep our personal business to our selves???
In my opinion, we all have that right!!
Mar 12, 2012 6:41PM
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My grandparents (and their parents before them) ate this stuff, especially at Sunday dinner, and they were skinny and healthy.  It was their normal farm exercise, and the healthy food (no trans-fats, or other chemo-crap additives).  I don't know anything about Bubba, I wasn't there, so we'll leave that to the courts.  Regardless, Paula's recipes are delicious.  If we all could get off our butts and walk every day, excluding chemicals (and who knows, GMO foods!), maybe we could return to those good old days!

 

Mar 12, 2012 6:36PM
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What-stinkin-ever! Butter is not unhealthy! So sick of all the hype. Butter and burgers is not the problem. It's the Standard American Diet that the govt has sold to a bunch of people who can no longer think for themselves...THAT is the problem. My grandparents were poor farmers and ate everything the govt tries to sell as bad. Poor health is big business...the don't really want you well. As for Paula Dean...she is a business woman. People buy her product and she is not responsible for anyone's health. That's what's wrong with this country. We have become an entitled-lazy-can't think for ourselves-McDonald's made me do it-society. Blame Paula if you want. Scream she should be more responsible. Keep passing the buck. Makes me sick!
Mar 12, 2012 5:23PM
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Mrs. Big, you are entitled to your opinion, and you certainly aren't being forced to watch her show so don't.  But to call her a bigot is uncalled for.  The person who is accusing her and her brother of really unacceptable things has to prove her accusations and no one should punish Paula Deen and her brother until they are proven guilty.  I hope they don't settle with this woman, especially if they are innocent of the accusations, just so people like you know that the accusations were false and that all this woman wanted was to get a quick payout.  Also so that if the accusations are true so that all of us know what kind of people she and her brother really are and make our decisions to not watch her show, or buy any products that she endorses, for the right reasons.  I also believe that should this womans accusations be found to be false that any amount of money that she was trying to sue for should have to be paid by her to Paula Deen and her brother.  People should not be allowed to falsely accuse people without consequences.
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Someone else looking for easy money.  I wish they'd just leave her alone, she owes us no explanation re. her diabetes or anything else.  She cooks like my Mom did and it was great food.   If people don't like her, turn the channel.. 
Mar 12, 2012 7:31PM
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WHEN I WAS A KID EVERYONE ATE FOOD FRIED IN LARD, THE BEST PIE CRUSTS ARE MADE WITH LARD.  WE ATE BACON, EGGS, GRAVIES AND ALL THAT "UNHEALTHY" STUFF.  WHY IS THAT HARDLY ANYONE GOT CANCER BACK THEN AND DIABETES WAS ALSO PRETTY RARE.  MANY DISEASES WE HAVE NOW WEREN'T HEARD OF THEN.  WE DIDN'T DO PROPER EXERCISES EITHER....WE WERE BUSY RUNNING ALL OVER THE PLACE OUTSIDE WITH WAGONS, SCOOTERS, SKATES AND PLAYING GAMES LIKE TAG.  MOMS HAD TO HANG OUT LAUNDRY, IRON EVERYTHING, CLEAN THE HOUSE AND ALL THAT NON-STOP STUFF IT TOOK TO RUN A HOME.  WHO NEEDED EXERCISE??

 

NOWADAYS PEOPLE EAT "ORGANIC" OR "NATURAL" FOODS....SO DID WE BUT ORGANIC AND NATURAL WASN'T SO DOCTORED UP.  OUR MILK DIDN'T HAVE HORMONES.  IF YOU PUT MARGARINE OUTSIDE AND JUST LEAVE IT, NOTHING WILL HAPPEN, INSECTS DON'T EAT IT BECAUSE THERE IS NOTHING BUT CHEMICALS IN IT.  TRY IT.   I THINK WE NEED TO GET BACK TO THE TIMES WHEN PEOPLE ATE REAL FOOD AND HAD BUSY ENOUGH LIVES THAT THERE WAS NO TIME FOR EXERCISE.

 

THE RECENT GENERATIONS SPEND MOST OF THEIR TIME SITTING IN FRONT OF A COMPUTER, TEXT MESSAGING ETC. ETC.  CASES OF DIABETES IS OVER THE TOP AND EVERYONE EITHER HAD CANCER OR KNOWS SOMEONE WHO DID.  GO FIGURE!  TRY TO BUY A MAGAZINE WITHOUT SOME NEW DIET ON IT.  I COULD WRITE REAMS BUT, JUST TRYING TO MAKE A POINT.  I DOUBT PAULA DEEN'S COOKING HAS ANYTHING TO DO WITH IT.  IN FACT, IT'S HEALTHIER THAN YOU THINK.

Mar 12, 2012 5:50PM
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Although I do not care for her show my wife watches  all her shows. Whatever her health problems are it is no nobodies business  but her own. As for the so-called racial issues it is becoming the battle cry of shyster lawyers to suck the blood of their victims if they are white and the so called victims are not..
Mar 12, 2012 5:32PM
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Ok, enough is enough.  Paula Deen has a cooking show, restaurant, etc. and she cooks what people in the South enjoy.  She does not hold anyone's mouth open and push the food down.  What in the world is the big deal?  The lady has diabetes, she is the one who has this disease.  She is the one to deal with it and she chose to keep her condition to herself for whatever reason.    Get on with your life. 
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