During 2021 we exceeded expectations - growing our business, serving more patients than ever and expanding our pipeline for long-term success. But we also disappointed patients and prescribers alike due to supply challenges that we must learn from as we look to the future.
Our company's strong commercial performance against a backdrop of continued disruption caused by the pandemic would not have been possible without the resilience and collaborative spirit shown by colleagues across the organisation and our many partners.
This momentum was driven by our portfolio of GLP-1 based therapies where buoyant demand for our semaglutide-based medicines Ozempic® and Rybelsus® contributed to a total GLP-1 growth of 28% in 2021, thereby strengthening our global leadership in diabetes in the process.
Such was the demand in the US for another semaglutide product Wegovy®, that five weeks after launch, as many prescriptions were written for the medication as in the four years that followed the launch of its predecessor Saxenda®. This underscored the high unmet need among people living with obesity but also presented initial challenges for us in supply capacity - exacerbated when a key partner experienced issue with Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) in December.
Whilst we continue to focus on providing treatment to already-initiated patients, we are taking steps within our global production to enable us to fully meet US demand in the second half of this year and to enable much-anticipated launches in broader markets.
Importantly, we continue to reach more patients in need around the world. Our Changing Diabetes® in Children partnership, for example, has provided free, holistic diabetes care to nearly 32,000 children and adolescents living with type 1 diabetes in low-, and middle-income countries. Our diabetes products now reach 34.6 million people worldwide, with more than 5 million receiving them through our access and affordability programmes.
We are also doing more than ever to mitigate our impact on the environment, with a 43% reduction in CO2 emissions compared to pre-pandemic, and an action plan to drive emissions down further in transportation, which is our largest residual source of CO2. This includes converting our fleet of cars to electric vehicles, as well as working with a shipping partner to increasingly transport our products using biofuel.
We have bold ambitions to diversify our product pipeline into adjacent therapy areas such as NASH (non-alcoholic steatohepatitis) and cardiovascular disease, where we believe we can be among the best in the world. Our collaboration with Heartseed for stem cell-based heart failure therapy reflects these efforts and we expect to take a significant step forward by initiating the first human trials this year.
Our acquisition of Dicerna, which develops RNAi-based therapies to selectively silence genes that cause or contribute to disease, demonstrates our ambition to innovate within both established and new therapy areas for Novo Nordisk. Our commitment to achieving further breakthroughs within diabetes remains as strong as ever. Driving this innovation requires creativity - something I am convinced is fostered through inclusion. To enable this, we are making Novo Nordisk a more diverse and inclusive workplace in which both new and long-serving employees have the opportunity to achieve their full potential.
I would like to thank all my colleagues around the globe for their hard work and commitment during another demanding year, as well as the Board of Directors and our shareholders for their continued support.
Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen
President & Chief Executive Officer