Novo Nordisk Buys $1bn Cardior in CardioVascular Move

As Novo Nordisk expands into heart medicines, we profile the Danish pharma giant who in 1923 was the first to make insulin commercially available

Denmark's Novo Nordisk has agreed to buy Cardior Pharmaceuticals for up to €1bn (US $1bn) to strengthen its cardiovascular offerings.

The deal will help the expand its diabetes and weight-loss offerings, to include cardiovascular disease treatments. The Danish company has become one of the world's most valuable companies, thanks to its hugely popular weight-loss treatment, Wegovy.

"By welcoming Cardior as a part of Novo Nordisk, we will strengthen our pipeline of projects in cardiovascular disease where we already have ongoing programmes across all phases of clinical development," Novo said in a statement.

The deal includes Cardior's heart failure medicine CDR132L, currently in clinical trials. It is designed to provide long-lasting improvement in heart function, Novo added. The deal is expected to go through in Q2 2024.

Here, we profile Novo Nordisk, a company that has done more than any other to further the treatment of diabetes.

Novo Nordisk: A world leader in diabetes treatment & management

Novo Nordisk focuses on serious chronic diseases that affect hundreds of millions of people, including types 1 and 2 diabetes, obesity, haemophilia and growth disorders.

The company began life in 1923 as the Nordisk Insulin Laboratorium, and was the first operation to commercialise the production of insulin, after the technique was brought to Denmark from Canada by August Krogh. 

After hearing of the discovery of insulin in 1921, Danish Nobel laureate Krogh and his wife Marie -- a doctor living with diabetes -- travelled to Canada with the goal of producing life-saving insulin in Denmark. In March 1923, the first patients were treated with insulin, marking the beginning of a century of innovation around protein-based treatments for people living with serious chronic diseases.

In 1985, the company launched the NovoPen, the first insulin pen device. Today, the pen is considered to be a design icon, and the company continues to “pioneer delivery systems that improve quality of life and make managing chronic diseases easier”, it says.

In 1989, Nordisk merged with Novo, which had been set up in 1925 by brothers Harald and Thorvald Pedersen, former employees of Nordisk. 

Both Novo and Nordisk had established diabetes hospitals in Denmark to provide specialised diabetes care and lifestyle guidance while gaining a better understanding of patients’ needs. In 1992, the two hospitals merged, to become the Steno Diabetes Center in Copenhagen, which remains at the forefront of diabetes treatment.

Novo Nordisk says it draws upon insights from patients and partners “to transform bold ideas into life-saving and preventive medicines”. 

It seeks to make long-term investments in ground-breaking treatments and technologies, including curative stem cell-based therapies, to “continually advance the development of medical devices and digital health solutions”.

Novo Nordisk in statistics: 

In August 2023, Novo Nordisk partnered with Kakao Healthcare to develop its diabetes management service with AI technology. Kakao is the digital healthcare business of South Korean internet company Kakao Corporation.

The companies signed a memorandum of understanding to open a smart healthcare service to assist patients with diabetes. 

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