Novo in $1.3B Deal Buys Late-Stage Hypertension Drug from Singapore Biotech

Novo Nordisk_iStock, hapabapa

Pictured: Novo Nordisk office in California/iStock, hapabapa

Novo Nordisk on Monday announced that it is acquiring the late-stage investigational hypertension drug ocedurenone from Singapore-based biotech KBP Biosciences for up to $1.3 billion.

Ocedurenone is currently being assessed in the Phase III CLARION-CKD study, which is still in the recruitment process and has an enrollment target of 600 patients with advanced chronic kidney disease and uncontrolled hypertension, according to the study’s page. CLARION-CKD launched in July 2021 and has a primary completion date of September 2024.

Novo and KBP expect to close the deal before the year ends, pending relevant regulatory approvals and other customary conditions, according to Monday’s announcement. The Danish drugmaker will dig into its financial reserves to fund the acquisition, though it does not expect the deal to affect its previously announced operating profit guidance for 2023 or its ongoing share buy-back program.

On Friday, driven by the soaring demand for its diabetes drug Ozempic and weight-loss treatment Wegovy, Novo raised its operating profit growth outlook to between 40% and 46%, up nearly 10 percentage points from the previously announced 31% to 37% anticipated growth range.

“This deal is closely aligned with our strategic focus on expanding from our core in diabetes into other serious chronic diseases, including through novel drug modalities,” Camilla Sylvest, Novo’s executive vice president for commercial strategy and corporate affairs, said in a statement.

Designed to be orally administered, ocedurenone is a small molecule non-steroidal drug candidate being developed for uncontrolled hypertension. The investigational drug works by binding to and blocking the action of mineralocorticoid receptor, the overactivity of which are known to lead to hypertension.

According to KBP’s website, ocedurenone has a longer half-life and stronger affinity toward mineralocorticoid receptors compared with similar drugs on the market. The candidate also has the potential to achieve better efficacy and tolerability than others in the same drug class.

“With its expected benefit-risk profile, ocedurenone has best-in-class potential in treating uncontrolled hypertension,” Martin Holst Lange, Novo’s executive vice president and head of development, said in a statement.

Now in charge of ocedurenone’s development, Novo is planning to start more Phase III studies for other cardiovascular and kidney diseases in the coming years.

Monday’s acquisition of ocedurenone is the latest development in Novo’s quest to expand into the cardiovascular and kidney disease spaces. In August 2023, the company reported that its mega-blockbuster drug Wegovy (semaglutide) aced its Phase III trial, demonstrating significant improvements in patients with heart failure with preserved ejection fraction.

Last week, Novo stopped a study ahead of schedule due to strong signals of efficacy during an interim analysis. This trial was looking at the effects of semaglutide in patients with chronic kidney disease.

The acquisition deal with KBP is also Novo’s third such agreement in as many months. The Danish pharma bought Inversago for $1 billion and Embark Biotech for $500 million in August 2023.

Tristan Manalac is an independent science writer based in Metro Manila, Philippines. He can be reached at or

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