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Novo Nordisk sheds autoimmune portfolio to BMS

Continues the trend of pharma buying up unwanted assets from rival firms

Novo HQ 

Bristol-Myers Squibb will take on Novo Nordisk's drug portfolio for autoimmune diseases as the Danish firm looks to consolidate its focus on medicines for diabetes.

Under the deal, financial details of which have not been disclosed, Bristol-Myers Squibb will acquire an exclusive global license to a discovery biologics research programme focused on modulating the immune system as a therapy for autoimmune diseases.

For BMS, this deal slots neatly into its own long-standing research into immunoscience, a core therapeutic area for the company that has a number of drug candidates in development to target immune-mediated diseases.

Novo is currently the world's number one insulin maker but is facing an encroachment on its market share as new insulin products from Sanofi, coupled with cheaper biosimilar drugs on the horizon, will cut the Danish firm's leading status.

The entire diabetes franchise is also under pricing pressure as governments struggle to keep up with higher costs, more products and increasing rates of the diseases - a situation that contributed to Novo recording an unusual dip in sales last year.

The company is therefore shedding its non-core therapy areas, such as the autoimmune portfolio, in order to focus on maintaining its market share in metabolic diseases.

The deal comes in the same week that Novo gained European approval of its new obesity drug Saxenda (liraglutide 3mg) - a higher dose form of its blockbuster GLP-1 type 2 diabetes drug Victoza.

BMS's purchase of Novo's asset also falls in line with a growing trend in pharma that has seen companies spin-off unwanted units - such as Pfizer did with its animal health business Zoetis - or swapping assets, as GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis have done this month with their vaccine and cancer portfolios.

Article by
Ben Adams

25th March 2015

From: Research

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