Following lukewarm launch and layoffs, Zealand Pharma is licensing out its diabetes drug to Novo Nordisk
In March, Zealand Pharma gutted its US workforce and said it was looking for strategic partnerships for its diabetes products following a disappointing first year on the market for its diabetes treatment Zegalogue.
On Wednesday morning, the Danish biotech followed up with its plans, announcing it is licensing Zegalogue out to Novo Nordisk in exchange for DKK 25 million upfront (approximately $3.3 million USD). In addition, Zealand can get DKK 45 million in near-term milestones and DKK 220 million in sales.
Novo Nordisk will now take on the marketing of Zegalogue worldwide, adding another drug to its wide diabetes portfolio. But Zealand will still be in charge of certain regulatory and development work to get Zegalogue approved outside the US.
In March of last year, Zealand won its first approval for Zegalogue, a glucagon analogue, to treat severe low blood sugar in diabetes patients older than 6 years of age. However, Zegalogue fell flat in the market — and the biotech slashed sales projections for 2022 by more than half as a result.
In addition to hollowing out its workforce, Zealand revamped its leadership, replacing CEO Emmanuel Dulac with R&D head Adam Steensberg. It also hired David Kendall as CMO, and in November, the biotech will be getting a new CFO in Henriette Wennicke, who actually began her career at Novo Nordisk.
In a statement this morning, Steensberg said, “This agreement is another important step in our strategy to establish commercial partnerships as we create and develop innovative next generation peptide therapeutics.”
Zealand is also working on adding to Zegalogue’s indications — the biotech said it’s planning to submit an NDA early next year on the back of a Phase III readout of the glucagon analogue for congenital hyperinsulinism in infants and young children.