- Novartis kicked off the week with a deal to acquire Selexys Pharmaceuticals, adding a new sickle cell disease (SCD) treatment to its portfolio.
- For $665 million in upfront and milestone payments, Novartis picks up SelG1, Selexys's drug candidate for the treatment of vaso-occlusive crisis, a side effect frequently seen among patients with SCD. Further financial details weren't disclosed in the statement released Monday.
- Vaso-occlusive crisis occurs when the quintessentially misshapen cells found in those with SCD cause blood vessel blockages. The obstructions are very painful and often chronic, and can lead to slower blood flow and organ damage.
Novartis locked down exclusive rights to acquire Selexys back in 2012, but didn't take advantage of that option until it received results from a Phase 2 study for SelG1. While those results were presumably positive, further updates won't be available until Dec. 4, when Novartis presents trial data at the American Society of Hematology's annual meeting.
"Sickle cell disease affects millions of people around the world and there are limited therapies available for treatment of vaso-occlusive pain crises, a very common complication of the disease," Bruno Strigini, CEO of Novartis's oncology business, said in the Monday statement.
What's more, the Selexys acquisition provides Novartis a stronger footing in the blood disease therapeutic space, something the company has been striving for as of late.
In March 2015, the big pharma received FDA approval of Jadenu, a drug that combats the buildup of iron in the blood — a side effect experienced across a wide array of hematological disorders, including SCD. Two months earlier, Novartis entered a collaboration with Intellia Therapeutics to develop gene CRISPR-based gene editing treatments for the disease.
Those moves come as industry followers expect increased returns on hematological drugs. A report from Grandview Research that was published in February cited SCD as the largest growth segment of the hemoglobinopathies market, with $2.1 billion worth of revenue in the U.S. in 2014 alone.