Novo Nordisk, a global pharmaceutical giant renowned for its groundbreaking diabetes and weight loss medications, is again making waves in the pharmaceutical industry. Following the announcement of their soaring sales projections, driven primarily by Ozempic and Wegovy, the company has strategically diversified its portfolio by acquiring KBP Biosciences’ potential game-changer in chronic kidney disease (CKD). The acquisition is set to be a substantial investment of up to $1.3 billion and may pave the way for Novo Nordisk to challenge Bayer’s CKD drug, Kerendia.
In June 2021, the pharmaceutical landscape witnessed Bayer’s triumphant achievement when its non-steroidal mineralocorticoid receptor antagonist (nsMRA) drug, Kerendia, secured FDA approval. This marked a significant milestone in the company’s quest to address chronic kidney disease (CKD) and its associated complications. While this victory cast a formidable shadow over the CKD treatment space, KBP Biosciences, undaunted by Bayer’s success, demonstrated their unwavering commitment to advancing medical science. Just months after Bayer’s regulatory triumph, KBP Biosciences embarked on an ambitious endeavor by initiating a pivotal phase 3 clinical trial to investigate oprocedurenone, their own promising nsMRA drug candidate.
Where Bayer’s clinical trials for Kerendia primarily centered on evaluating the drug’s effects on kidney and cardiovascular health, KBP’s late-phase trial took a distinctive and innovative approach. While kidney and cardiovascular health are paramount in CKD management, KBP’s trial honed in on a specific and critical aspect of patient well-being: systolic blood pressure.
The FDA endorsed Kerendia as a means to reduce the risk of renal and heart problems in adults suffering from CKD associated with Type 2 diabetes. On the other hand, KBP’s trial positions ocedurenone as a potential treatment for uncontrolled hypertension in advanced CKD patients. Novo Nordisk, recognizing the versatile potential of this small molecule in kidney and cardiovascular diseases, believes that it may outshine Kerendia in this particular therapeutic niche.
Martin Holst Lange, Head of Development at Novo Nordisk, expressed his optimism about oprocedurenone, stating, “With its expected benefit-risk profile, ocedurenone has best-in-class potential in treating uncontrolled hypertension and could help address a major unmet medical need in people living with cardiovascular disease and chronic kidney disease.”
While the financial terms of the upfront fee have not been disclosed, Novo Nordisk’s commitment to invest up to $1.3 billion highlights the seriousness of their intent. The pharmaceutical giant seems confident in their decision, although concrete evidence of the drug’s efficacy may be a year away, with the primary completion of the hypertension trial scheduled for September 2024. Nevertheless, Novo Nordisk’s proactive approach is evident in their plans to expand into a broader phase 3 program.