April 5, 2018 / 1:42 PM / 6 months ago

Novo Nordisk buys blood drug licence to boost anaemic biopharma business

COPENHAGEN, April 5 (Reuters) - Danish drugmaker Novo Nordisk has secured the global licence for U.S. biotech company EpiDestiny's sickle cell disease (SCD) programme in a bid to offset declining sales in its biopharmaceutical business.

Novo, best known for its diabetes drugs, is on the hunt for promising assets to boost its struggling blood products business after it lost out to French rival Sanofi in the chase for Belgian biotech company Ablynx in January.

"This is a great opportunity for Novo Nordisk to enter into a new therapeutic area closely related to our existing biopharmaceutical business," said chief scientific officer Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen.

Novo's biopharmaceutical sales fell by 16 percent last year.

SCD, an inherited blood disorder which can cause anaemia, affects an estimated 30 million people worldwide.

Ohio-based EpiDestiny is eligible to receive more than $400 million in upfront, development and sales milestone payments and will get royalties on net sales, said Novo.

The private biotech recently completed a phase 1 trial with its SCD programme, EPI01.

The two companies will collaborate to develop EPI01 in SCD and beta-thalassaemia, a related group of red blood cell diseases, while EpiDestiny will retain all rights to continue development of EPI01 in oncology. (Reporting by Stine Jacobsen; Editing by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen and Adrian Croft)

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