The acquisition is expected to further expand and complement Novartis’ oncology pipeline while helping the firm to develop next-generation oncology treatments and expand its global presence in haematology


An image of Novartis logo building in Novartis Campus Basel. (Credit: Novartis AG)

Novartis has signed a business combination agreement to acquire German cancer drug maker MorphoSys for a total consideration of €2.7bn in cash.

Switzerland-based Novartis will make a voluntary public takeover offer for all no-par value bearer shares of MorphoSys for €68 per share in cash.

The acquisition is expected to further expand and complement Novartis’ oncology pipeline while also boosting the firm’s global presence in haematology. It will also help the Swiss drug maker to develop next-generation oncology treatments.

Upon completion of the acquisition, MorphoSys will continue to operate as a separate, independent entity.

The deal includes Pelabresib, which is a late-stage BET inhibitor for myelofibrosis (MF).

Novartis will also own Tulmimetostat, an early-stage investigational dual inhibitor of enhancer of zeste homolog 1 and 2 (EZH1 and EZH2) proteins. The asset is currently being assessed for solid tumours or lymphomas.

Novartis president, development and chief medical officer Shreeram Aradhye said: “We are excited about the opportunity of bringing Pelabresib, a potential next-generation treatment combined with Ruxolitinib, to people living with myelofibrosis, a rare and debilitating form of blood cancer.

“With the planned acquisition of MorphoSys, we aim to further strengthen our leading pipeline and portfolio in oncology, adding to our capabilities and expertise.”

In the Phase 3 MANIFEST-2 study in JAK inhibitor-naive MF patients, Pelabresib in combination with Ruxolitinib recently met its primary endpoint of spleen volume reduction.

In the earlier Phase 2 MANIFEST study, the third arm of the trial with a patient population equivalent to MANIFEST-2, demonstrated durable changes in both spleen volume and total symptom score up to week 60.

The regulatory filing with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is planned for H2 2024.

MorphoSys CEO Jean-Paul Kress said: “Novartis will provide ample resources currently unavailable to MorphoSys as a standalone biotech company to help accelerate the development opportunities and maximise the commercialisation potential of Pelabresib at a greater speed and scale.”

The transaction is expected to complete in the first half of 2024, subject to customary closing conditions.