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J&J inks $6.5bn all-cash deal to acquire Momenta

Acquisition sees J&J gain access to portfolio of autoimmune disease treatments

Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has entered a definitive agreement to acquire Momenta, a US-based biotech specialising in treatments for hard-to-treat autoimmune diseases.

J&J will acquire Momenta in an all-cash deal for $52.50 per share, for a total of equity value of $6.5bn. The transaction will likely be finalised in the second half of this year, with Momenta continuing to operate as an independent company until that time.

The pharma giant also intends to retain Momenta’s presence in Cambridge, Massachusetts to build on the existing innovation capabilities in the biotech hub.

The deal will see J&J’s Janssen unit gain full access to Momenta’s portfolio of investigational autoimmune disease drugs, including anti-FcRn antibody nipocalimab, which is currently being developed as a treatment for the rare neuromuscular disease myasthenia gravis.

Momenta recently revealed positive topline data for the drug in this indication, with a phase 2 study of nipocalimab demonstrating promising efficacy and tolerability in myasthenia gravis. The drug is also being evaluated in a phase 2/3 study as a treatment for warm autoimmune hemolytic anemia (wAIHA).

In addition to the promising data, nipocalimab recently received a rare paediatric disease designation from the US Food and Drug Administration, as well as a fast track and orphan drug designation in wAIHA.

According to J&J, nipocalimab could win a number of first-in-class indications, with some of those potentially exceeding $1bn.

“Nipocalimab, and the rest of Momenta’s pipeline, built over many years by outstanding scientists who have turned important insights into actionable biology, expands and complements our portfolio by giving us clinical-stage and discovery-stage compounds in autoantibody biological pathways,” said Mathai Mammen, global head of research and development at Janssen, J&J.

“Combining Momenta’s discoveries with our 20-year heritage in immunology, global scope, and scientific and medical expertise, we see a real opportunity to create an entire pipeline in a pathway,” he added.

Earlier this month, J&J agreed separate deals with the US and UK for access to its potential COVID-19 vaccine, with the US deal valued at $1bn. However, J&J is providing its vaccine on a not-for-profit basis, highlighting the need for more growth drivers in its investigational pipeline.

J&J already has high stakes in the autoimmune disease market, with some of its existing products, including psoriasis med Stelara (ustekinumab), already reaching blockbuster status.

Last December, the pharma giant also acquired rights to the investigational anti-IL-1a monoclonal antibody (mAb) bermekimab from XBiotech for $750m, with the intention of developing the drug in autoimmune disorders.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

20th August 2020

From: Sales

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