Novo’s $1.1bn pro Forma deal

Novo Nordisk has been expanding furiously from its diabetes and obesity heartland via recent deals. Today it made another move to diversify with the acquisition of Forma Therapeutics, spending $1.1bn to gain a late-stage sickle cell project and some earlier oncology assets. This will put Novo in direct competition with Pfizer, which will become the market leader in sickle cell when its acquisition of Global Blood Therapeutics closes. Interestingly Novo has, like Pfizer, given sickle cell gene therapies a swerve: Forma’s lead project, etavopivat, is an oral selective pyruvate kinase R activator. Etavopivat is in a phase 2/3 study, but data are unlikely to emerge for a few years; Global Blood’s inclacumab is in two phase 3 studies that could report sooner, and that group also has Oxbryta, forecast to lead the market in 2028 with sales of more than $1.6bn. Whether today's deal represents a success for Forma’s investors is another question: it was struck at $20 per share, precisely where Forma listed just over two years ago. In the meantime the stock had peaked at nearly $50, but after a brutal year shareholders look relieved just to get their money back. 

The late-stage sickle cell disease pipeline
Project Company Mechanism  Details
CTX001 Vertex/Crispr Therapeutics Crispr/Cas9 gene-edited cell therapy targeting BCL11a Ph2/3 Climb-121 trial ongoing; filing expected late 2022
Bluebird Bio HBB gene therapy Ph3 & ph1/2 trials under partial clinical hold; filing expected Q1 2023 but could be delayed
Inclacumab Pfizer (via Global Blood Therapeutics) Anti-P-selectin MAb Two pivotal trials, 131 and 132, ongoing 
Etavopivat Novo Nordisk (via Forma Therapeutics) Pyruvate kinase R activator Ph2/3 Hibiscus trial began Dec 2021
Mitapivat Agios Pharmaceuticals Pyruvate kinase R activator Ph2/3 Rise Up trial began Jan 2022
Source: Evaluate Pharma, company websites &

Share This Article