DENMARK — Novo Nordisk has sealed a landmark deal to acquire metabolic disorder specialist Inversago Pharma, in a transaction valued at approximately US$1.1 billion in a strategic move to solidify its supremacy in the obesity drug market.

This audacious move underscores Novo Nordisk’s commitment to amplifying its portfolio and consolidating its standing in the ever-evolving realm of metabolic health.

Inversago Pharma, a Canadian biotech firm, holds a promising pipeline with its lead experimental drug showcasing encouraging results in a Phase 1b trial for weight loss.

The drug’s potential transcends boundaries, currently undergoing Phase 2 trials for diabetic kidney disease while simultaneously charting paths to address other metabolic and fibrotic disorders.

Novo Nordisk’s acquisition sets the stage for further exploration of the lead drug’s impact on obesity and its associated complications.

With Novo Nordisk’s triumphs driven by the triumphant Wegovy weight loss injection and the diabetes treatment Ozempic, the company’s robust sales surged by a remarkable 30% in the initial half of 2023.

This dynamic performance has paved the way for an upward revision of revenue and operating profit growth projections for the year.

The recent groundbreaking revelation that Wegovy can mitigate cardiovascular risks for individuals with heart disease is anticipated to galvanize Novo Nordisk’s momentum, persuading insurers of the profound health advantages of weight-loss medicines.

Emerging competition and Novo’s dominance

While Novo Nordisk currently leads the race, competitors are rapidly closing in. The resounding success of the Wegovy heart trial not only propelled Novo Nordisk but also resonated with industry counterpart Eli Lilly, showcasing the potential of its diabetes treatment Mounjaro in inducing significant weight loss benefits.

The landscape of contenders extends to Pfizer and Amgen, as the race for innovative obesity solutions intensifies.

Inversago’s experimental drug bolsters Novo Nordisk’s expanding pipeline, which boasts a range of potential obesity treatments progressing through Phases 1, 2, and 3.

The pursuit of convenience drives Novo Nordisk’s commitment to unveiling a pill version of Wegovy, following a successful Phase 3 trial in May.

The acquisition of Inversago signals a strategic evolution for Novo Nordisk, a company historically less inclined towards acquisitions.

In recent years, Novo Nordisk’s landscape has been enriched through acquisitions like Dicerna Pharmaceuticals and Forma Therapeutics, alongside strategic partnerships with innovative startups such as Dewpoint Therapeutics and Aspect Biosystems.

Inversago Pharma’s remarkable journey originated in Montreal through a pivotal license agreement with the U.S. National Institutes of Health proposed in 2015.

Subsequent rounds of funding, including a US$7 million Series A, US$35 million Series B in 2020, and a substantial US$70 million Series C last year, have propelled Inversago’s trajectory.

Bolstering its footing is Forbion, a Dutch venture capital firm and now the largest shareholder of Inversago, embarking on an innovative path towards metabolic health solutions.

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