Novartis acquires Corthera, gets global rights to new heart drug

Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis said today it will gain exclusive worldwide rights to a potential new heart drug by acquiring US biopharma firm Corthera in a deal that could be worth up to $620 million.

Basel-based Novartis has proposed to acquire privately-held Corthera for $120 million and pay Corthera's current shareholders an additional $500 million upon successful product development and achieving commercial milestones.

Corthera, based in San Mateo, California, is a private biopharmaceutical company, whose investors are private equity players and financial firms like Domain Associates, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Caxton Advantage Life Science Fund, and Sears Capital Management Inc.

Through the acquisition, Novartis will get exclusive worldwide rights in all countries except Australia and Canada, to Corthera's Relaxin, currently in Phase III clinical trials, which is a recombinant version of a naturally occurring human peptide to treat acute decompensated heart failure.

If Relaxin is successful, it could generate approximately $1 billion in annual revenue as well as enhance Novartis's dominant position in cardiovascular medicines, since its drug, Diovan is already the top-seller globally for the treatment of high blood pressure.

Tekturna is another drug sold by Novartis for treating high blood and has two more drugs, which are currently in mid- and late-stage clinical trials as well as Exforge HCT, which is the only high blood pressure treatment to combine three medications in a single pill.