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Novo Nordisk buys Waltham biotech Corvidia for $725m

The Danish drug giant was attracted by the firm’s experimental treatment to lower heart attack risk for patients with chronic kidney disease.

Novo Nordisk headquarters in Bagsvaerd, Denmark.
Novo Nordisk headquarters in Bagsvaerd, Denmark.SABROE

Novo Nordisk said Thursday that it’s buying the Waltham biotech Corvidia Therapeutics for $725 million as the Danish pharmaceutical company expands its core business beyond diabetes drugs to pursue new treatments for cardiovascular disease.

Novo Nordisk, the world’s biggest producer of diabetes medications, said it was drawn to Corvidia because of the privately held startup’s experimental medicine to lower the risk of heart attacks in patients with chronic kidney disease. The yet-to-be approved drug is called ziltivekimab.

“We believe that ziltivekimab has the potential to become a first- and best-in-class treatment to lower the burden of cardiovascular disease in a patient population that is at high risk of major adverse cardiovascular events,” said Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen, executive vice president and chief science officer of Novo Nordisk.

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The company will acquire all outstanding shares of Corvidia for $725 million. Shareholders in Corvidia could ultimately receive a total of $2.1 billion if Novo Nordisk meets regulatory and sales goals for ziltivekimab.

“In Novo Nordisk, we have found a partner that has deep expertise in cardiometabolic disease, a proven track record of success in conducting cardiovascular outcomes trials ... and the infrastructure to accelerate the development of ziltivekimab in order to help patients who need it most," said Marc de Garidel, Corvidia’s chief executive.

Founded five years ago, Corvidia has fewer than 20 employees, according to a spokesman. They work at the AstraZeneca biohub in Waltham.

Novo Nordisk set up a small operation in Massachusetts last year and has 10 employees at the Cambridge Innovation Center in Kendall Square. That number is expected to double by the end of the year.

The company has partnerships with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Whitehead Institute, and the biotechs Bluebird Bio of Cambridge and Dicerna Pharmaceuticals of Lexington.


Jonathan Saltzman can be reached at jonathan.saltzman@globe.com.