Novartis and Ionis enter $1bn cardiovascular drug deal

pharmafile | January 6, 2017 | News story | Medical Communications, Research and Development, Sales and Marketing Akcea, Akcea Therapeutics, Ionis, Ionis Pharmaceuticals, cardiovascular 

Ionis Pharmaceuticals and one of its wholly-owned subsidiaries Akcea Therapeutics have entered into a partnership with Novartis worth potentially more than $1 billion concerning the exclusive global development and marketing rights for two novel cardiovascular treatments.

As Akcea CEO Paula Soteropoulos explained, “AKCEA-APO(a)-LRx and AKCEA-APOCIII-LRx are novel potential therapies to address the broad opportunities that still exist to treat cardiovascular disease, despite currently available therapies. We believe that Novartis is the ideal partner for developing both drugs to their fullest potential.”

According to the companies, the two GalNAc3-conjugated antisense oligonucleotide technology therapies have the potential to significantly lower lipoproteins Lp(a) and ApoCIII by up to 90% and reduce cardiovascular risk in high-risk patients.

As part of the deal, Ionis and Akcea are set to receive $225 million in near-term payments which includes an upfront payment of $75 million, in addition to a $100 million equity investment in Ionis. Novartis will also pay a $150 million license fee, and Ionis and Akcea are eligible to receive up to $600 million and $530 million respectively in developmental, regulatory and commercialisation milestone payments.

“Novartis is building a robust cardiovascular portfolio of targeted therapies to address unmet medical need of high-risk patients,” commented Vasant Narasimhan, CMO and global head, Drug Development at Novartis. “Lp(a) and ApoCIII are potent, genetically validated cardiovascular risk reduction targets. The importance of predictive biomarkers in achieving successful cardiovascular outcomes will also be essential in the future payer environment. We look forward to working with Ionis and Akcea to develop both treatments.”

Ionis and Akcea now plan to take the treatments through Phase 2 studies, with Novartis supporting a later Phase 3 study. The deal is currently subject to closing conditions and regulatory approvals.

Matt Fellows

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