Weight loss drugs firm expands into heart disease treatment

French President Emmanuel Macron visits the plant of Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk in Chartres, south west of Paris, Thursday, Nov. 23, 2023.
French President Emmanuel Macron visits the plant of Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk in Chartres, south west of Paris, Thursday, Nov. 23, 2023. Copyright Mohammed Badra/AP
By Indrabati Lahiri
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The Novo Nordisk deal is due to be wrapped up in the second quarter of this year. It will help to establish the maker of Wegovy and Ozempic in the cardiovascular treatment market.

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Pharmaceutical giant Novo Nordisk is to take over German biotech company Cardior Pharmaceuticals in a deal worth up to €1.025 billion. The latter, which works mainly on cardiovascular cures, will lay the foundation for Novo Nordisk to expand into the heart disease sector.

Novo Nordisk, of weight loss drug Wegovy and diabetes drug Ozempic fame, recently became Europe's biggest company, with a market capitalisation of about DKK 3.05 trillion (€0.41 trillion). The company also accounts for almost 50% of global insulin production. At the time of writing, the company's shares were trading at around €118.5. 

Novo employs some 63,400 employees in 80 countries and its products are sold in around 170 countries.

The deal is expected to be completed in Q2 of this year and is also likely to have an (as yet unknown) amount of upfront extra payment, if specific commercial and development goals are met. Novo Nordisk has revealed that the funds for the acquisition will be taken out of its existing financial reserves and will not threaten its current share repurchase programme or profit guidelines.

Cardior makes robust progress in heart disease treatment

Cardior is a pioneer in the ongoing development of treatments that focus on ribonucleic acid (RNA) as a way to repair, prevent and reverse heart complications. The company's main compound, CDR132L, is in phase 2 of the clinical development for heart failure cures and is also included in the deal with Novo Nordisk.

Martin Holst Lange, the executive vice president for Development at Novo Nordisk said in a statement: "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.

"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."

Claudia Ulbrich, managing director, CEO and co-founder of Cardior also said in the statement: "This acquisition is a reflection of CDR132L's transformative potential as a disease-modifying therapy for heart failure.

"Novo Nordisk is the ideal partner based on its deep clinical and commercial expertise combined with its resources to accelerate our late-stage development programme, including through larger registrational studies. We look forward to advancing CDR132L towards market approval."

Novo Nordisk is also currently in a race to hold on to its crown as weight-loss drug pioneer, amid increasing attempts to catch up by long-term rival Eli Lilly, as well as new entrants such as Amgen.

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