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Novartis signs potential $1bn deal with Ionis and Akcea on cardiovascular treatments

PBR Staff Writer Published 09 January 2017

Novartis has agreed to pay more than $1bn to Ionis Pharmaceuticals and its subsidiary Akcea Therapeutics for the rights to two cardiovascular drugs.

The Swiss drugmaker signed a collaboration and option agreement, which is subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals.

Ionis developed two investigational antisense therapies, dubbed AKCEA-APO(a)-LRx and AKCEA-APOCIII-LRx, have the potential to reduce both lipoproteins up to 90% and lower cardiovascular risk in high-risk patient populations.

Novartis will be able to exercise its options to license and commercialize the therapies after achieving specified development milestones and before the start of phase 3 studies for each program.

Upon in-licensing, Novartis will be responsible to develop and commercialize both the assets globally.

The deal includes an upfront payment of $75m and a $100m equity investment in Iona.

Novartis has also agreed to invest a further $50m in either Ionis or Akcea within 18 months, as well as make payments worth up to $1.4bn if the drugs prove successful.

Novartis global head of drug development and chief medical officer Vasant Narasimhan said: "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 intend to carry out a phase 2 dose-ranging study for each drug, to choose the optimal dose and assess alternative dose schedules, such as monthly dosing, for the phase 3 study.

Akcea Therapeutics CEO Paula Soteropoulos said:  "We are advancing our pipeline of novel drugs to treat previously inadequately treated lipid disorders by pursuing indications that drive the greatest near- and long-term value.  

“This strategic partnership allows us to move more rapidly to Phase 3 cardiovascular outcomes studies with both therapies than our original development plan.”


Image: Novartis Logo, Basel Headquarters. Photo: courtesy of Novartis AG.