The acquisition will help Novo Nordisk expand its portfolio of oral biologic pipeline assets by using Emisphere’s drug delivery technology


Emisphere Technologies to be acquired by Novo Nordisk. (Credit: Novo Nordisk A/S)

Danish healthcare firm Novo Nordisk has agreed to acquire Emisphere Technologies, a US-based drug delivery company, for $1.8bn.

Emisphere Technologies uses its proprietary technologies, which include Eligen SNAC technology, for developing new oral formulations of therapeutic agents.

Since 2007, the two companies have collaborated and under an existing licence agreement, the Eligen SNAC technology has been used by Novo Nordisk in the oral formulation of its GLP-1 receptor agonist semaglutide.

The GLP-1 receptor is marketed and sold by the Danish firm as Rybelsus, which was approved in April 2020 by the European Commission for the treatment of type 2 diabetes.

As part of the deal, Novo Nordisk will buy out the shares of Emisphere for $1.35bn. The Danish firm will also buy related Eligen SNAC royalty stream obligations owed to Emisphere’s largest shareholder MHR Fund Management for $450m.

Novo Nordisk will be therefore free from its future royalty obligations to Emisphere and MHR and gets full access to the drug delivery technology platform. This is expected to help the Danish firm expand its portfolio of oral biologic pipeline assets across therapy areas.

Eligen SNAC technology is designed for delivering drug therapies in a tablet formulation with an absorption-enhancing excipient. The oral drug delivery platform is claimed to enable small and large molecules to be absorbed without changing their chemical form, biological integrity, or pharmacological characteristics.

Novo Nordisk executive vice president and chief scientific officer Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen said: “We intend to apply and further develop the technology and use it on current and future pipeline assets with the aim of making more biologic medicines orally available for patients”.

The completion of the transaction is subject to the meeting of customary closing conditions. These include approval by Emisphere’s shareholders and the expiration or termination of the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976.

In June this year, Novo Nordisk agreed to acquire Corvidia Therapeutics from Sofinnova Partners in a deal potentially worth $2.1bn. Corvidia Therapeutics is a US-based biotechnology company, which is focused on developing therapies for cardio-renal diseases.