Johnson & Johnson, the largest pharmaceutical company in the U.S., will acquire Massachusetts-based drugmaker Momenta Pharmaceuticals for approximately $6.5 billion.
The acquisition will help the company’s Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies unit to consolidate its position in the immune-mediated diseases further and will grant it access to Momenta’s experimental nipocalimab (M281) drug, a clinically validated anti-FcRn antibody.
Nipocalimab has the potential to treat autoimmune diseases, wherein the immune system attacks healthy cells in the body by mistake. In autoantibody-driven diseases, the body’s antibodies attack or damage its own proteins, cells and tissues, often with devastating consequences.
The drug is being tested as a treatment for myasthenia gravis, a chronic autoimmune, neuromuscular disease that causes weakness in the skeletal muscles that worsens after periods of activity. Nipocalimab gives Janssen the opportunity to reach significantly more patients as it helps in treating many autoimmune diseases in maternal-fetal disorders, neuro-inflammatory disorders, rheumatology, dermatology and autoimmune hematology. Nipocalimab recently received a rare pediatric disease designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
“Programs such as nipocalimab have the potential to improve the lives of countless patients suffering from autoimmune and fetal maternal diseases,” Momenta chief executive officer Craig Wheeler said in a statement. “This acquisition provides strong value for our shareholders and ensures a level of investment in our exciting portfolio that will further enhance its potential for patients.”
"This acquisition broadens Janssen's leadership in autoimmune diseases and provides us with a major catalyst for sustained growth. Autoantibody-driven diseases are often serious, and patients are undeserved by current treatment options," said Jennifer Taubert, Executive Vice President, Worldwide Chairman, Pharmaceuticals, Johnson & Johnson.In addition to Momenta's employees and lead asset nipocalimab, Janssen will also acquire Momenta's pipeline of clinical and pre-clinical assets as part of the deal.
With full worldwide commercial rights for nipocalimab, Janssen will have the potential to introduce multiple launches, with potential for significant peak year sales, some of which could exceed $1 billion, supporting Janssen’s goal of continuing to deliver above-market performance over the long term.
Analysts at SVBLeerink, an investment bank focused on the health-care industry, estimated that this new class of autoimmune drugs could generate sales of $20 billion to $25 billion in the U.S. by 2030, reports the WSJ. The acquisition was driven mainly by the significant opportunity seen in nipocalimab, along with the scientific capability of the Momenta team, says the Janssen press release.
Under the terms of the transaction, Vigor Sub, Inc, a newly formed wholly-owned subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson will purchase all outstanding shares of Momenta for $52.50 per share. The closing of the offer is conditioned on the clearance under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act and other customary closing conditions. Following completion of the merger, Momenta’s common stock will no longer be listed for trading on the NASDAQ Global Select Market.
The deal is expected to close in the second half of 2020.