Life sciences giant Johnson & Johnson is growing. This morning the company announced it is acquiring Momenta Pharmaceuticals in a $6.5 billion all-cash deal. Shares of Momenta soared nearly 70% in premarket trading to $52.15.
J&J said the acquisition will allow its subsidiary, Janssen Pharmaceutical, to broaden its leadership in immune-mediated diseases and drive further growth through expansion into autoantibody-driven disease. At the center of the deal is Momenta’s lead asset nipocalimab, an aglycosylated, effectorless IgG1 anti-FcRn monoclonal antibody that won both Orphan Drug designation and Rare Pediatric Disease designation for the prevention of hemolytic disease of the fetus and newborn (HDFN), a serious blood disorder in a fetus or newborn that occurs when red blood cell incompatibility exists between the blood types of a mother and fetus in utero.
In its announcement this morning, Janssen said nipocalimab provides the company with an opportunity to reach more patients by pursuing indications across many autoimmune diseases with substantial unmet medical need in maternal-fetal disorders, neuro-inflammatory disorders, rheumatology, dermatology and autoimmune hematology.
Mathai Mammen, Global Head of Janssen Research & Development, said nipocalimab provides the company with a “pipeline in a pathway” and as a result, anticipates the company becoming a blockbuster treatment and a major revenue driver for the company.
Jennifer Tauber, Worldwide Chairman of Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceuticals, said the acquisition of Momenta broadens Janssen’s leadership in autoimmune diseases and provides the company with a major catalyst for sustained growth. J&J pointed to Momenta’s expertise in FcRn mechanisms, which is important to the development of nipocalimab. Autoimmune diseases driven partially or completely by autoantibodies represent a novel area where Janssen can significantly improve health outcomes for patients. In autoantibody-driven diseases, the body’s antibodies attack or damage its own proteins, cells and tissues, often with devastating consequences. Janssen expects nipocalimab to contribute to its goals of achieving above-market growth over the mid and long term.
“Autoantibody-driven diseases are often serious, and patients are underserved by current treatment options. We’re excited by the opportunity to further advance patient care by combining Johnson & Johnson’s world-class R&D, commercial and supply chain capabilities with Momenta’s talented people, pipeline and deep expertise in this important area,” Tauber said in a statement.
In addition to Momenta’s employees and lead asset nipocalimab, Janssen will acquire Momenta’s pipeline of clinical and pre-clinical assets. The acquisition was driven by the significant opportunity seen in nipocalimab, along with the scientific capability Janssen is acquiring with the Momenta team. Janssen’s plans for additional assets in the Momenta pipeline will be determined as more data become available and could offer further upside potential, the company said.
Janssen said it plans to retain Momenta’s presence in Cambridge, Mass., which will expand J&J’s “existing innovation footprint and capabilities in the greater Boston area.” The transaction is expected to close in the second half of 2020.
Momenta Chief Executive Officer Craig Wheeler said the acquisition provides strong value for its shareholders and ensures a level of investment in the company’s portfolio that will further enhance its potential for patients.
“Programs such as nipocalimab have the potential to improve the lives of countless patients suffering from autoimmune and fetal-maternal diseases Wheeler said in a statement. “I believe J&J is the right company to advance our portfolio of novel drug candidates for autoimmune and rare diseases. J&J’s leadership in immunology, extensive capabilities, and global reach, as well as its alignment with our vision of pioneering therapies for complex diseases is a strong fit for our company and our portfolio.”