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Eyes On Pharma Blog 

Novo Nordisk Acquires Forma Therapeutics

This week we had Eyes On the acquisition of Forma Therapeutics by Novo Nordisk – a typically reticent player in the M&A arena. The merger will bolster Novo’s Rare Disease Portfolio and add new MOA to their Sickle Cell Disease area.

While many know Novo Nordisk as a leader in Diabetes & Obesity, they also have franchises in Hematology, Growth Disorders, and HRT.

The Novo Nordisk pipeline includes follow-on products for their key franchises as well as candidates for Rare Liver Disease, Alzheimer’s, and Cardiovascular Disease.

Forma Therapeutics is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on therapeutics to transform the lives of patients with rare hematologic diseases and cancer. They have clinical & pre-clinical programs in Sickle Cell Disease, Thalassemia, Prostate Cancer, Acute Myeloid Leukemia, Glioma, Solid Tumors, and Rare Hematology Oncology areas.

Why the acquisition? Overall, Novo Nordisk is known for its internal development strategy – but they did allude to the possibility of external add-ons in March at capital markets day. They discussed their desire to increase their focus on rare diseases ultimately showing that they can target rare and common diseases alike. They did note that they are focusing primarily on collaborations for early-stage assets – where they can add value to the asset.

The head of Rare Diseases stated that Novo was attracted to Forma’s etavopivat for a few reasons. The drug has demonstrated a good safety profile and efficacy during its clinical testing, and it is convenient for patients given that it needs to be taken only once daily. Novo also liked how flexible the drug can be — it can be used alone or in combination with other treatments, and it is currently being developed for use in pediatric patients as well as adults.

Novo Nordisk has been slowly expanding their Rare Disease franchise over the past few years and the SCD compound from Forma is the latest in that push. Previously they licensed Eclipse from EpiDestiny (entering Ph 2) and were in discussions with Ablynx before the Sanofi acquisition. They have also been working with BlueBird Bio & then 2seventy bio on a gene-editing asset for Hemophilia A.

This move is one of what seems to be a growing trend among the hematology players where firms are looking to expand past Hemophilia into other blood disorders. Pfizer bought Global Blood Therapeutics in August for over $5B USD. Global Blood is a company with one commercialized therapy for sickle cell disease and a pipeline of additional drugs in various stages of development for blood disorders.

We’ll be keeping our Eyes On the Hematology space – with assets moving into later stage development it will be interesting to see which ones remain with smaller Biotech firms, and which go to firms with more established commercialization organizations.

Some of the references used for this post are from the Novo Nordisk & Forma Therapeutics websites, Evaluate Vantage, BioPharma Drive, and MedCityNews.

Tip of the Week

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