Zealand acquires a struggling diabetes med-tech in push into US market
Zealand Pharma is expanding again.
Four months after buying out Canada’s Encycle Therapeutics and their library of GI-drugging peptides, Zealand has agreed to purchase Valeritas, a struggling medical technology company focused on diabetes. It will cost them $23 million.
The deal primarily serves as another onramp for the biotech to enter the US market. Copenhagen-based Zealand has previously partnered with large pharma companies, most notably joining with Sanofi on a pair of diabetes drugs that included the biotech’s GLP-1 analog: Soliqua and Lyxumia.
But Soliqua was a huge commercial disappointment. Pegged as a future blockbuster, it sold just €26 million in its first full year before Zealand sold off its future royalties to Royalty Pharma. Zealand, pinning the drug’s failure on Sanofi, said they were going to do future commercial launches in-house.
No easy feat for a small biotech, the commercial pivot also required reorienting their R&D to focus on rarer indications, where small patient populations make marketing easier. They also fully reshuffled their C–Suite. Last year, they brought in a new CSO and a new CFO and hired former Alnylam executive Emmanuel Dulac as CEO.
Zealand said this acquisition will help them as they look to “become a fully integrated biotechnology company with commercial operations in the U.S” and specifically as they try to launch dasiglucagon in 2021. An analog to glucagon, the drug is being developed first for diabetes with severe hypoglycemia. After a positive Phase III, the biotech has said they will file an NDA early this year.
Valeritas simultaneously filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, in order “to accomplish the sale in the most efficient manner.” Zealand will continue all of Valeritas’s commercial operation and retain “nearly all” employees, Valeritas said in their press release.
Social image: Zealand Pharma