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Sobi acquires emapalumab and related assets from Novimmune


Swedish Orphan Biovitrum (Sobi) has signed an agreement to acquire, from Novimmune’s shareholders, a newly established company owning emapalumab and related assets. It has also announced a reorganization to increase the focus of research & development resources to support its two core therapeutic areas: Haematology and Immunology.

The acquisition gives Sobi access to world-class R&D capabilities in the field of immunology and means that a previously announced exclusive licence agreement with Novimmune will be superseded.

SEK 4,897 M

The consideration for the acquisition is CHF 515 M (SEK 4,897 M), of which CHF 400 M was previously committed in the exclusive licence agreement for emapalumab. The acquisition is expected to be earnings neutral in 2019 and completed during Q3 2019, subject to customary closing conditions.

“The acquisition of emapalumab and related assets is an important step in the transformation of Sobi in becoming a global leader in rare diseases,” says Guido Oelkers, Sobi President and CEO. “This will allow us to realise the full potential of emapalumab as an important treatment in the area of Immunology and address a significant unmet medical need. Immunology is one of our key focus areas where we can make a significant difference to patients’ lives. We look forward to welcoming our new colleagues to join us in this mission and create an even stronger Sobi.”

The acquisition of emapalumab

Through the acquisition of emapalumab, Sobi gains access to: all assets relating to emapalumab including intellectual property, patent rights, data and know-how, all relevant and highly experienced employees involved in the clinical and biopharmaceutical development of emapalumab, options for the shared financial rights to NI-1701 and NI-1801, two product candidates in the field of immuno-oncology, a priority review voucher within the US Food & Drug Administration’s priority review programme, which offers companies investing in orphan drugs a cost reduction for the application fee for future products and shortens the review period. The voucher can be used or sold by Sobi.

R&D reorganization

The company has also announced that it intends to carry out a reorganization to increase the focus of research & development resources to support its two core therapeutic areas: Haematology and Immunology.

Two centres of excellence

Sobi’s focus for the future is on building its pipeline through the continued development of core assets in late stage and the acquisition of promising late-stage candidates. To this end, Sobi intends to establish two centres of excellence, for Haematology in Sweden and for Immunology in Switzerland.

“We will continue to increase our R&D spend in late-stage development, demonstrating our commitment to making a significant difference for people with rare diseases by providing access to innovative treatments within the rare disease space,” said Guido Oelkers, Sobi President and CEO.

Plans to divest projects

Sobi also intends to discontinue discovery/early research and partner R&D programmes outside its core focus areas. This includes the intention to divest the SOBI006 project and the SOBI003 project.

Annual savings of SEK 200–300 M

The new focus of the R&D organisation is expected to lead to annual savings of SEK 200–300 M on a full-year basis in 2020, which will increase the company’s financial flexibility to reallocate future investments into late-stage development projects. In 2019 restructuring costs of around SEK 100–200 M relating to the reorganization and redundancies corresponding to approximately 90 positions will be charged. Guidance for the full year 2019, excluding restructuring costs, remains unchanged.

Photo of Guido Oelkers, Sobi President and CEO