Novo Nordisk announced an agreement last week to acquire Calibrium and MB2, two young private companies co-founded by the renowned Dr. Richard DiMarchi (Indiana University, Bloomington, IN) that are focused on developing protein-based products for diabetes and obesity. Closing of the agreement is expected later in 3Q15 pending approval from US regulatory authorities (where we expect zero difficulty); the companies did not disclose any financial details. For Novo Nordisk, the agreement is the latest in a series of steps aimed at expanding the company’s early-stage diabetes and obesity portfolio and its US research presence (including the investment in a major new manufacturing facility for oral semaglutide and other products in Clayton, NC announced just the other day and the establishment of an obesity research center in Seattle, WA last fall). Novo Nordisk has not historically been very active in M&A activity relative to other major pharmaceutical companies, so we see this agreement as a significant and well-deserved vote of confidence in Dr. DiMarchi and his team – from our conversation early this morning with Novo Nordisk head of R&D Dr. Peter Kurtzhals, this move may also signal a change in Novo Nordisk’s approach to partnerships. For Dr. DiMarchi, Novo Nordisk’s extensive drug development expertise will certainly be an asset and the Danish company is clearly extremely happy to be collaborating with him and his group – Dr. Kurtzhals mentioned more than once the strength of Dr. DiMarchi’s team as he has seen over his many years at Novo Nordisk. In terms of logistics, Dr. Kurtzhals indicated that the research will be conducted by a ~20-person team led by Dr. DiMarchi that is based in Indiana. Dr. DiMarchi will report directly to Dr. Kurtzhals and will have the title of Vice President of R&D. The agreement covers the majority of Dr. DiMarchi’s work at Indiana University, including assets advanced at Marcadia and Calibrium (with a few undisclosed exceptions). Novo Nordisk is also funding a discovery unit of approximately two dozen scientists focused on metabolism.
Novo Nordisk’s longstanding focus on developing peptide products for diabetes and obesity bodes well for the collaboration’s long-term success.
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