BUSINESS INSIGHTS

Novo Nordisk to acquire Forma Therapeutics and expand presence in sickle cell disease and rare blood disorders

Novo Nordisk | September 02, 2022 | Read time : 06:00 min

Novo Nordisk
Novo Nordisk and Forma Therapeutics, Holdings Inc. announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Novo Nordisk will acquire Forma Therapeutics for $20 per share in cash, which represents a total equity value of $1.1 billion. Forma Therapeutics is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on transforming the lives of patients with sickle cell disease (SCD) and rare blood disorders.

The acquisition of Forma Therapeutics, including its lead development candidate, etavopivat, is aligned with Novo Nordisk’s strategy to complement and accelerate its scientific presence and pipeline in hemoglobinopathies, a group of disorders in which there is abnormal production or structure of the hemoglobin protein in the red blood cells.

“Novo Nordisk has worked for more than 40 years to develop and deliver transformative medicines to patients around the world with rare and devastating diseases. By adding Forma’s differentiated approach to address unmet needs for patients, we are taking a step forward in enhancing our sickle cell disease pipeline,” said Ludovic Helfgott, executive vice president and head of Rare Disease at Novo Nordisk. “We have an ambition to build a leading portfolio with standalone and combination treatments to tackle the complications and underlying causes of sickle cell disease.”

Etavopivat, an investigational oral, once-daily, selective pyruvate kinase-R (PKR) activator, is being developed to improve anemia and red blood cell health in people with SCD, a seriously debilitating, life-threatening and life shortening disease. Etavopivat is currently being evaluated in a global phase 2/3 clinical trial (Hibiscus) in patients with SCD, and in a phase 2 trial (Gladiolus) in patients with transfusion-dependent SCD and another inherited hemoglobinopathy called thalassemia.

“Today’s announcement is an exciting milestone that accelerates Forma’s purpose to transform the lives of patients with sickle cell disease and other serious hematological diseases,” said Frank D. Lee, president and chief executive officer of Forma. “Novo Nordisk will partner closely with the sickle cell community to amplify our impact for patients around the world who urgently need new treatment options. We look forward to working together with Novo Nordisk to serve as a trusted partner to our communities and to advance innovation, access and health equity for patients.”

The transaction will not impact Novo Nordisk’s previously communicated operating profit outlook for 2022 or the ongoing share buy-back program. Novo Nordisk will fund the acquisition from financial reserves.

About the transaction
Under the terms of the agreement, Novo Nordisk will initiate a tender offer to acquire all outstanding shares of Forma Therapeutics’ common stock at a price of $20 per share in cash (or aggregated value of $1.1 billion) and a premium of 92% to Forma Therapeutics’ volume-weighted average price per share over the past 30 days ended August 31, 2022.

The transaction has been unanimously approved by the Forma Therapeutics Board of Directors. The closing of the tender offer will be subject to certain conditions, including the tender of shares representing a majority of Forma Therapeutics’ outstanding shares, receipt of applicable regulatory approvals and other customary conditions. Upon the successful completion of the tender offer, Novo Nordisk’s acquisition subsidiary will merge into Forma Therapeutics, and any shares of common stock of Forma Therapeutics not tendered into the offer will receive the same USD per share price payable in the tender offer. The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2022.

In addition, certain affiliates of RA Capital Management, L.P., which collectively own approximately 19% of Forma Therapeutics’ outstanding shares, have entered into a support agreement pursuant to which they committed to tender their shares in the tender offer.

Novo Nordisk is represented by Moelis & Company UK LLP as financial advisor and Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP as legal advisor. Forma Therapeutics is represented by Centerview Partners LLC as financial advisor and Goodwin Procter LLP as legal advisor.

About sickle cell disease
Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a chronic and progressive inherited disorder associated with a decrease in the health and lifespan of red blood cells. People living with SCD have red blood cells that are crescent shaped, rendering them inflexible, fragile, and unable to effectively deliver oxygen. The health of these sickle red blood cells is impaired and characterized by reduced cellular energy, poor deformability, decreased membrane repair, and increased adhesion.

Around 17 million people worldwide live with SCD, including approximately 100,000 people in the United States, as well as approximately 30,000 in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom. SCD can cause serious health problems, including anemia, fatigue, episodes of pain known as vaso-occlusive crises (VOCs), and chronic, progressive end-organ damage. Despite recent advances in treatment, most patients with SCD still suffer from pain crises, lifelong disability, reduced quality of life, and shortened life expectancy.

About etavopivat
Etavopivat is an investigational, once-daily, selective pyruvate kinase-R (PKR) activator designed to be a disease-modifying therapy with the potential to improve red blood cell health and transform the lives of people living with SCD. Employing a multimodal approach, etavopivat works by activating the red blood cell’s natural PKR activity to decrease levels of the metabolite 2,3-DPG, allowing sickle hemoglobin to hold on to oxygen longer, resulting in decreased polymerization, hemolysis, and sickling. Etavopivat-mediated PKR activation also increases adenosine triphosphate (ATP) levels, to improve red blood cell function, which can lead to improved deformability, capacity for membrane repair, red blood cell health, and lifespan. Together, these effects are anticipated to improve the health of sickle red blood cell and lead to a reduction in anemia, hemolysis, vaso-occlusive crises, and end organ damage.

In a phase 1 trial, etavopivat improved anemia and red blood cell health and appeared to have a safe and well-tolerated profile, demonstrating a potential to improve the lives of patients with SCD, including increases in hemoglobin, improvements in red blood cell health, and decreases in vaso-occlusive crises (VOCs).

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted etavopivat Fast Track, Rare Pediatric Disease and Orphan Drug designations. Additionally, etavopivat was granted Orphan Drug designation from the European Commission based on a positive opinion from the Committee for Orphan Medicinal Products of the European Medicines Agency for the treatment of patients with SCD.

About Forma Therapeutics
Forma Therapeutics is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the research, development and commercialization of novel therapeutics to transform the lives of patients with rare hematologic diseases and cancers. Forma Therapeutics R&D engine combines deep biology insight, chemistry expertise and clinical development capabilities to create drug candidates with differentiated mechanisms of action focused on indications with high unmet need. Our work has generated a broad proprietary portfolio of programs with the potential to provide profound patient benefit. 

About Novo Nordisk
Novo Nordisk is a leading global healthcare company, founded in 1923 and headquartered in Denmark. Our purpose is to drive change to defeat diabetes and other serious chronic diseases such as obesity and rare blood and endocrine disorders. We do so by pioneering scientific breakthroughs, expanding access to our medicines, and working to prevent and ultimately cure disease. Novo Nordisk employs about 50,800 people in 80 countries and markets its products in around 170 countries. 

Spotlight

Harbisson is one of many patients reaping the benefits of increased connectivity in the healthcare industry. Connected medical device—such as pacemakers and insulin pumps that communicate with other networks and devices over the Internet—provide patients and physicians with technology to better manage chronic conditions, improve outcomes, and reduce the overall cost of care2.

Spotlight

Harbisson is one of many patients reaping the benefits of increased connectivity in the healthcare industry. Connected medical device—such as pacemakers and insulin pumps that communicate with other networks and devices over the Internet—provide patients and physicians with technology to better manage chronic conditions, improve outcomes, and reduce the overall cost of care2.

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