Emisphere set to benefit as Novo Nordisk pushes oral diabetes pipeline

By Dan Stanton contact

- Last updated on GMT

iStock/Boarding1Now
iStock/Boarding1Now
Novo Nordisk’s focus on developing oral versions of semaglutide and four other diabetes drugs could net drug delivery firm Emisphere over $200m.

More than 10 pharma and food supplement firms have partnered with New Jersey-based Emisphere Technologies, Inc. for its Eligen bioavailability enhancement technology.

But the drug delivery tech firm’s largest opportunity comes from Danish drugmaker Novo Nordisk, which has heavily invested in formulating oral versions of its diabetes portfolio, according to CEO Alan Rubino.

Novo Nordisk is developing an oral form of semaglutide, its once daily oral formulation of the long acting glucagon analogue for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, plus a further four molecules targeting metabolic disorders using the Eligen platform, he told stakeholders in a conference call yesterday.

“The testing of oral semaglutide is now well underway and on schedule. There are now 10 clinical trials, not all of them that are up and running,”​ he said.

“If approved, GLP-1 plus these four product candidates, if they all go in feasibility to development will compete in high-value therapeutic areas that currently represent now $8 billion in total product sales…. Importantly Emisphere is eligible to receive up to $207m in development and sales milestone payments in addition to royalties on sales for each of the successfully commercialized product covered by this agreement with each of the four molecules.”

Novo Nordisk has begun Phase III clinical trials on an oral semaglutide with results expected later this year. The firm has also begun implementing plans to invest over $2bn​ into manufacturing sites in Denmark and North Carolina in order to support this programme.

Eligen and SNAC

The Eligen platform involves a proprietary stable and soluble ‘SNAC’ (Sodium N-[8-(2-hydroxybenzoyl) Amino] Caprylate) carrier that ‘chaperones’ compounds – including peptides and proteins – through the gastrointestinal (GI) membrane, overcoming bioavailability issues without altering the therapeutic agent.

“SNAC carrier is actually the lynchpin to the success of the GLP-1 and other Novo Nordisk oral formulations,”​ Rubino said.

“So naturally, we are very enthusiastic about the depth and the scope of the Novo Nordisk partnership, which is our longest and most expensive.”

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