- Novo Nordisk said Monday it will spend up to $1.3 billion to buy an experimental hypertension drug from Singapore-based KBP Biosciences, adding to a string of acquisitions that builds out its metabolic disease business behind the blockbuster diabetes drug Ozempic.
- The pill, called ocedurenone, is in a Phase 3 trial in people with chronic kidney disease and uncontrolled high blood pressure. Results are due next year, and Novo said it plans to begin additional Phase 3 trials in other cardiovascular and kidney disease indications.
- Novo is putting its profits from accelerating Ozempic sales to work, having cut late-summer deals to buy a Danish metabolic startup called Embark Biotech and a Canadian metabolic company called Iversago. That followed on the billion-dollar-plus deals to buy rare disease drug developer Forma Therapeutics in 2022 and genetic medicine company Dicerna in 2021.
KBP reported positive Phase 2 ocedurenone data in 2021, showing that, at the dosage being tested in Phase 3, the drug lowered systolic blood pressure by on average 10 points more than a placebo.
The patients in that trial, called BLOCK-CKD, had moderate-to-severe kidney damage and systolic blood pressure of between 140 and 180 even though they took at least two blood-pressure lowering drugs.
The Phase 3 CLARION-CKD trial is enrolling a similar, but larger patient population who will be monitored for longer, and could have results in less than a year.
The drug’s sale could potentially help it reach patients sooner by putting it into the hands of a company with a larger research and development budget and a broader commercial presence. “We believe this transition could unlock the full potential of ocedurenone and benefit more patients with cardiovascular and kidney disease worldwide,” said KBP founder and chair Zhenhua Huang, in a statement.
Ocedurenone will join around a dozen other experimental metabolic disease drugs in Novo’s development pipeline, ranging from treatments for the liver disease NASH to ones for heart failure, obesity and diabetes.
Novo’s dealmaking streak and R&D work has been fueled in part by revenue from diabetes drug Ozempic, which is also used off-label in obesity, and its weight loss product Wegovy. Despite some manufacturing hiccups, sales of those two drugs have skyrocketed, leading the company last week to once again raise its revenue and profit guidance.
Novo now expects sales growth of 32% to 38% in 2023 and operating profit growth of 40% to 46% in 2023. At the beginning of the year, Novo expected both sales and operating profit to grow 13% to 19%.