Novo Nordisk expands into cardiovascular disease with $725 million deal

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Novo Nordisk NOVOb.CO has agreed to buy AstraZeneca spin-off Corvidia Therapeutics for an initial $725 million as the world's largest diabetes drugmaker seeks to expand into cardiovascular disease treatments.

Slideshow ( 2 images )

The acquisition is in line with Novo’s strategy to diversify its portfolio and gain a foothold in markets for drugs closely linked to its core therapeutic areas of diabetes and obesity.

“Novo Nordisk has in recent years formulated a clearer strategy in cardiovascular diseases,” Novo’s chief science officer Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen said in an interview.

Corvidia’s leading drug candidate, ziltivekimab, is in mid-stage clinical trials. Novo expects the drug to come to market in the latter half of this decade.

With some 500 million patients worldwide, cardiovascular diseases are more widespread than diabetes, Krogsgaard said.

Some 70% of deaths among diabetics sufferers are caused by cardiovascular diseases, killing more people than cancer, Novo Nordisk says.

“This acquisition underlines that Novo slowly is moving into neighbouring areas to diabetes and obesity,” Krogsgaard said.

“The world is moving more towards a more holistic treatment paradigm, instead of treating just individual symptoms,” he said.

Krogsgaard would not give an estimate of potential peak sales of the drug, which he called “first and best in class”.

Novo said it would fund the deal from financial reserves and that it would not affect its full-year financial guidance or share buyback programme.

Total payments to Corvidia’s shareholders could be $2.1 billion if certain regulatory and sales milestones are reached, it said.

Reporting by Stine Jacobsen and Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen; Editing by Mark Potter and Barbara Lewis