Johnson & Johnson announced acquisition of Momenta Pharmaceuticals in a buy-out deal valued at USD 6.5 billion in an all-cash tender offer at USD 52.50 per Momenta share. J&J gets its hands on global rights for the most prized possession from Momenta’s pipeline- Nipocalimab, an anti-FcRn antibody that’s in clinical development for three auto-immune conditions – myasthenia gravis, warm autoimmune hemolytic anemia (wAIHA) and hemolytic disease of fetus and newborn (HDFN). Along with this lead molecule, several other clinical programs are in development and many of them being first-in-class indications for rare and orphan diseases. Other pipeline assets in Momenta’s pipeline target auto-immune conditions in inflammatory disorders, rheumatology, dermatology and hematology. Nipocalimab recently received US FDA’s orphan and pediatric rare diseases designation for the prevention of hemolytic disease of the fetus and newborn (HDFN). The asset is currently in phase 2 clinical stage for HDFN and phase 2/3 stage for myasthenia gravis, warm autoimmune hemolytic anemia (wAIHA).
The acquisition broadens Johnson’s expertise and leadership in auto-immune diseases, in addition to a data backed well-curated pipeline of transformative therapies. It also brings to Johnson Momenta’s experienced team of scientists who have made exceptional progress in research and development for treatments to rare diseases with large unmet needs. Combining Momenta’s clinical prowess with J&J’s heritage in immunology and global commercial presence, the acquired assets, especially Nipocalimab could expect a blockbuster launch in all the different indications which are currently underserved disease areas. Momenta holds tremendous expertise in the FcRn pathway which also forms the basis of a range of antibody mediated auto-immune diseases, and could empower J&J with additional targets in auto-immune conditions across several of J&J’s established therapeutic areas.
The transaction is expected to close in the second half of 2020. J&J plans to retain Momenta’s Cambridge presence given its existing footprint, capabilities and network with the area’s top talent and infrastructure facilities.
The announcement is one of the few mega-buyout deals witnessed in the biopharma world during the pandemic. It comes right on the heels of Sanofi’s acquisition of Principia for USD 3.7 billion, the key asset being an experimental multiple sclerosis drug. It also re-iterates big pharma’s growing focus on niche high-value therapeutic offerings for rare and orphan diseases, a transition also supported by scientific advancement in next-generation therapies and a regulatory appetite for innovative drugs with novel pathological mechanisms. Synergy with long-term pipeline agenda and commercial interests in a rapidly evolving market continue to be the drivers of mega-deals in the space.