The $2.7bn acquisition of Carmot Therapeutics sees Roche join GLP-1 drug heavyweights Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk.

Millie Nelson, Editor

December 4, 2023

3 Min Read
Roche weighs in on obesity drug market with $2.7bn Carmot buy
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The acquisition of Carmot Therapeutics sees Roche join GLP-1 drug heavyweights Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk.

The takeover, which will see Swiss drugmaker Roche pay Carmot an upfront fee of $2.7 billion and a potential further $400 million depending on milestones, is set to close in the first quarter of 2024. The acquisition will provide the firm with three clinical-stage incretins, including Carmot’s lead candidate CT-388.

CT-388 is a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1/GIP) receptor agonist (the same class as Lilly’s Mounjaro/Zepbound) for the treatment of obesity in humans and it is administered once-a-week via injection. According to Roche, the Phase II ready asset indicates positive results to achieve and uphold weight-loss with differentiated efficacy.

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DepositPhotos/garagestock

“We are encouraged by the clinical data for the lead asset CT-388, which demonstrated substantial weight loss in Phase Ib. These data suggest the potential for a differentiated profile to treat obesity and its associated diseases”, said Levi Garraway, chief medical officer, and head of global product development at Roche.

“The broad Carmot portfolio offers different routes of administration and opportunities to develop combination therapies that treat obesity and potentially other indications.”

Carmot has around 70 employees who will join Roche’s pharmaceutical division when the deal has officially closed.

“Obesity is a heterogeneous disease, which contributes to many other diseases that together comprise a significant health burden worldwide. By combining Carmot’s portfolio with programs in our pharmaceuticals pipeline and our diagnostics expertise and portfolio of products across cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, we are aiming to improve the standard of care and positively impact patients’ lives,” said Thomas Schinecker, CEO of Roche.

Competition is underway

The weight-loss market has become a hot topic of late with Novo Nordisk currently leading in the space with its obesity drug Wegovy. In its Q3 financial results call, Novo Nordisk reported Wegovy sales had increased by 481% (measured in Danish kroner).

Last month, the company pledged $6 billion to expand its manufacturing facilities in Kalundborg, Denmark with most of the funding going towards bolstering active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) capabilities to meet current and future demands for its GLP-1 products, which includes weight-loss blockbuster Wegovy and diabetes drug Ozempic.

Just under two weeks later, the Danish drugmaker announced a further $2.5 billion investment at its Chatres, France site – located 50km southwest from Paris – to support the firm’s products and pipeline, including its increasing range of GLP-1 drugs.

However, Novo Nordisk are not the only players looking to get a piece of the weight-loss drug pie. In the same week Novo Nordisk announced its $6 billion manufacturing expansion plan, Pharma giant Eli Lilly confirmed plans that it is set to construct a drug production plant in Rhineland-Palatinate, close to the French border in Germany. 

The plant is expected to open in 2027 and the $2.5 billion injectable and device manufacturing site in Alzey will support the firm’s diabetes and weight-loss portfolio. 

Lilly has previously upped its capacity to ensure Mounjaro supply. In December 2022, the firm said it was prepping for global demand by monitoring US uptake to determine the appropriate timing for launches across other geographies. Furthermore, through capital expenditure projects, Lilly says it is not expecting any supply constraints.  

Furthermore, in February Lilly said it expects to double incretin capacity by the end of this year to drive the launch of Mounjaro beyond the US.  

About the Author(s)

Millie Nelson

Editor, BioProcess Insider

Journalist covering global biopharmaceutical manufacturing and processing news and host of the Voices of Biotech podcast.

I am currently living and working in London but I grew up in Lincolnshire (UK) and studied in Newcastle (UK).

Got a story? Feel free to email me at [email protected]

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