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Novartis In-Licenses Rights to Heart Candidate From Ionis

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Novartis AG (NVS - Free Report) announced that it has obtained a worldwide license to develop and commercialize TQJ230 (AKCEA-APO(a)-LRx) from Akcea Therapeutics, an affiliate of Ionis Pharmaceuticals (IONS - Free Report) , for treating targeted cardiovascular diseases (CVD). This will enable the company to exercise an option per the deal it inked with Ionis in January 2017.

TQJ230 is an investigational RNA-targeting candidate, developed for treating elevated lipoprotein(a) (Lp(a)) level, an independent inherited CVD risk in such patients. Following this deal, Novartis is now solely responsible for the worldwide development and commercialization of this promising heart candidate.

In November 2018, Novartis presented data from the phase II study on TQJ230 at the American Heart Association. Data from the study showed that TQJ230 significantly reduced Lp(a) level in patients with high Lp(a) and pre-existing CVD. Novartis plans to begin a phase III cardiovascular outcomes study targeting the same patient population.

Currently, there are no treatments available that specifically target elevated Lp(a) level for the given patient population. Hence, if approved, TQJ230 could become the first-in-class treatment option for patients with elevated Lp(a) level.

Notably, in January 2017, Novartis entered into a collaboration and option agreement with Ionis Pharmaceuticals to license two investigational therapies, namely AKCEA-APO(a)-LRx and AKCEA-APOCIII-LRx, with the potential to significantly reduce CVD risk in patients suffering from high levels of lipoproteins known as Lp(a) and ApoCIII.

We would like to remind investors that last December, Biogen Inc. (BIIB - Free Report) obtained a worldwide license to develop and commercialize Ionis’ pipeline candidate, BIIB067 (IONIS-SOD1RX).

BIIB067 is an investigational candidate, currently being evaluated for the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) patients with superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) mutations.

Per the agreement, Biogen paid $35 million to Ionis and will be eligible to pay up to $55 million in milestones and low-to-mid-teen royalties on net sales of the product, after its potential approval and launch. Henceforth, Biogen will bear the entire future costs and expenses incurred for the development and commercialization of BIIB067.

Zacks Rank & Key Pick

Novartis currently carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell). A better-ranked stock in the large cap pharma sector is GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK - Free Report) , which has a Zacks Rank #1(Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

GlaxoSmithKline’s earnings estimates have been revised 3.1% upward for 2019 over the past 60 days.

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