Novo Nordisk to Purchase Cardior to Enhance Heart Disease Portfolio

Novo Nordisk Stock

Novo Nordisk (NYSE:NVO) has disclosed its intention to acquire Cardior Pharmaceuticals for up to €1.025 billion, aiming to fortify its pipeline in cardiovascular disease. The acquisition encompasses an upfront payment along with additional milestone payments contingent upon the attainment of specified development and commercial targets. The transaction is slated to conclude in the second quarter of 2024.

Cardior specializes in developing therapies targeting RNA to prevent, repair, and reverse heart diseases. Notably, the agreement encompasses Cardior’s flagship compound CDR132L, currently in mid-stage development for treating heart failure. CDR132L is engineered to interrupt and partially reverse cellular pathology by selectively inhibiting abnormal levels of the microRNA molecule miR-132, potentially yielding enduring enhancements in heart function.

According to findings from the phase Ib trial published in the European Heart Journal, CDR132L demonstrated safety, and tolerability, and suggested improvements in cardiac function among heart failure patients compared to placebo. An ongoing phase II study, HF-REVERT, involves 280 individuals with heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF) who have previously experienced myocardial infarction, with the first patient dosing in July 2022.

Novo Nordisk plans to initiate a second phase II trial to assess CDR132L in a chronic heart failure population with cardiac hypertrophy, a condition characterized by thickened and stiffened heart muscle walls, impairing blood pumping ability. The acquisition will be financed using financial reserves and is not expected to affect the operating profit guidance for 2024 or the ongoing share buyback program.

This move marks a diversification of NVO’s portfolio beyond diabetes treatments and obesity drugs. Novo Nordisk’s shares have surged by 66.8% over the past year, largely driven by the remarkable performance of its obesity drug Wegovy (semaglutide 2.4 mg) and Ozempic. In 2023, Wegovy generated sales totaling DKK 31.3 billion, reflecting a substantial year-over-year growth of 407% on a reported basis and 420% at a constant exchange rate.

Furthermore, the FDA recently approved NVO’s supplemental new drug application to expand Wegovy’s label, aiming to mitigate major adverse cardiovascular events in adults with overweight or obesity and established cardiovascular disease.

In the pharmaceutical and biotech sector, merger and acquisition activities have intensified as major players seek to diversify their portfolios amidst generic drug competition. AstraZeneca (NASDAQ:AZN) recently announced its acquisition of Fusion Pharmaceuticals (FUSN) for $2.4 billion, intending to bolster its oncology pipeline with next-generation radioconjugates, notably including FPI-2265, a potential treatment for metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer currently in phase II studies.

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