Novartis to pay $3.9 bn for radiopharma drug & biz

By Flora Southey

- Last updated on GMT

Novartis HQ in Basel, Switzerland (source Novartis)
Novartis HQ in Basel, Switzerland (source Novartis)
Novartis has announced plans to buy radiopharmaceutical firm Advanced Accelerator Applications (AAA), which will add neuroendocrine tumour treatment Lutathera to its portfolio.

The deal – which is subject to approval – would see Novartis pay $3.9 bn (€3.5m) for the Saint-Genis-Pouilly, France-headquartered firm.

AAA makes molecular nuclear drugs for diagnosis and therapy, such as its RadioLigant Therapy (RLT) Lutetium Lu 177 dotatate (Lutathera).

Unmet medical need

Novartis said there is unmet need for neuroendocrine tumour treatments, and the acquisition would strengthen its “oncology presence with both near-term product launches as well as a new technology platform with potential applications across a number of oncology early development programmes.”

In addition to Lutathera, AAA brings a broad set of skills in developing, manufacturing and commercialising radiopharmaceuticals, including the companion diagnostics for Lutathera​,” the firm added.

Lutathera

Lutathara is a target treatment made up of a small molecule carrying a radioactive component, designed to treat gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumours (GEP-NETs).

Once injected into the body, this small molecule binds to some specific sites on tumour cells, called receptors, and is then internalized into the target cell​,” said AAA.

The radioactive component of PRRT [peptide receptor radionuclide therapy] emits energy radiation that destroys the tumour cell​,” the firm added.

In September, Lutathera was approved in Europe for the treatment of unresectable or metastatic, progressive, well differentiated (G1 and G2), somatostatin receptor positive GEP-NETs in adults, following its positive Phase III trial.

A new drug application (NDA) is under review in the US.

Jobs? Facilities?

AAA has 21 production, and research and development (R&D) sites and more than 550 employees in Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, the UK and the US.

Novartis spokesperson Eric Althoff did not tell us if all AAA employees and facilities would be transferred to Novartis.

We will work together with the AAA team to optimise the integration to ensure the continued success of the AAA organisation within Novartis​,” Althoff told us.

“We do not expect material cost synergies from the transaction​,” he said.

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