Lawyers from Davis Polk & Wardwell in the US and McCann Fitzgerald in Ireland have advised Danish pharma company Novo Nordisk on its purchase of the US and Canadian rights to Strongbridge Biopharma’s hormone deficiency drug Macrilen.

Novo Nordisk will make an upfront payment of US$145 million to Strongbridge, as well as tiered royalties related to sales of the drug, and will purchase approximately 5.2 million Strongbridge shares for a total of US$36.7 million, the company said last week.

Macrilen, which is licensed in the US and Canada by Strongbridge Ireland, is the first and only oral growth hormone receptor that is approved by the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) for the diagnosis of Adult Growth Hormone Deficiency (AGHD). The FDA certified the drug in December 2017 and granted it orphan drug exclusivity in the US.

“The acquisition of Macrilen is in line with the strategy for our biopharm business with growth being driven by both organic and bolt-on initiatives,” said Jesper Brandgaard, executive president and head of Novo Nordisk’s Biopharm. He said Macrilen is “highly complementary” to Novo Nordisk’s growth hormone therapy Norditropin, allowing the company to help physicians and patients throughout the process of diagnosis and treatment of AGHD.  

Strongbridge’s business focuses on producing treatments for rare diseases, having manufactured drugs to combat endocrine and neuromuscular conditions.

Matthew Pauls, CEO of Strongbridge, said “the upfront payment and equity investment from Novo Nordisk will significantly strengthen the company’s overall financial position and marks a tremendous step forward in Strongbridge’s continued evolution as a company dedicated to rare diseases.”

Novo Nordisk was advised by US counsel William Aaronson, a partner from Davis Polk law firm, and partner David Byers from Irish firm McCann Fitzgerald. 

Aaronson is co-head of Davis Polk’s M&A group, having advised on life sciences deals such as Advanced Accelerator Applications’ acquisition by Novartis; Chemtura’s sale to chemical company Lanxess; and chemical company Solvay’s purchases of Cytec Industries and Chemlogics.

Byers specialises in IPOs, restructuring and M&A. He has advised on significant takeovers of Irish quoted companies, including Mylan’s attempted hostile takeover bid for pharma company Perrigo.

A team from the Ireland-based law firm Arthur Cox led Strongbridge in the deal, but were unable to provide PLN with the names of the lawyers involved.

The transaction is due to close in December, pending regulatory approval in the US.