Novo Nordisk strikes €1bn deal to expand into heart disease treatments

A view shows the logo of Novo Nordisk at the company's office in Bagsvaerd, on the outskirts of Copenhagen, Denmark, March 8, 2024. REUTERS/Tom Little/File Photo
Novo Nordisk seeks to branch out from diabetes and weight loss drugs. (Reuters / Reuters)

Novo Nordisk (NVO) has agreed to buy Cardior Pharmaceuticals, a German biotech company developing heart disease treatments, for €1bn (£856bn) as it expands into cardiovascular treatments.

The Danish pharmaceutical drugmaker is building a portfolio of therapies in areas like cardiovascular disease and emerging-therapy areas while strengthening its progress in the rare-disease pipeline.

“The acquisition is an important step forward in Novo Nordisk’s strategy to establish a presence in cardiovascular disease,” the company said in a statement.

The maker of blockbuster diabetes and weight loss drugs Ozempic and Wegovy said it will make an upfront payment for Cardior Pharmaceuticals, which is developing therapies that target microRNA.

The type of molecule helps to regulate how much of certain proteins are made inside cells and Cardior’s treatment is designed to block abnormal levels of a particular microRNA to improve the functioning of the heart over time.

Cardior's lead compound, CDR132L is currently in phase-two clinical development for the treatment of heart failure.

“We aim to not just alleviate disease symptoms, but to address the root causes of heart failure and restore the normal functioning of the heart,” said Thomas Thum, Cardior’s co-founder.

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The deal, which totals €1.025bn, includes an undisclosed upfront additional payment if certain development and commercial milestones are achieved.

The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2024. It will be funded from financial reserves and won’t impact Novo Nordisk’s profit guidance or continuing share buyback.

“By welcoming Cardior as a part of Novo Nordisk, we will strengthen our pipeline of projects in cardiovascular disease where we already have ongoing programmes across all phases of clinical development,” said Martin Holst Lange, executive vice-president for development at Novo Nordisk.

“We have been impressed by the scientific work carried out by the Cardior team, especially on CDR132L, which has a distinctive mode of action and potential to become a first-in-class therapy designed to halt or partially reverse the course of disease for people living with heart failure.”

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Novo Nordisk has become Europe’s most valuable company, with a a market capitalisation of $428bn.

The company makes close to 50% of the world’s insulin but it has also found success with weight-loss drug Ozempic. Since the end of 2020, the company’s stock has more than tripled as the company expands its footprint around the world.

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