It was only a week ago that Medicines Company presented final results from a second of two large late-stage clinical studies in patients with elevated cholesterol levels whereby inclisiran more than halved levels of “bad cholesterol” or LDL-C over 1.5 years. Unlike other drugs used in cholesterol-lowering treatment that has to be taken either as daily pills or biweekly injections, RNAi technology enables inclisiran to be administered once every 6 months with sustained efficacy.  

The magnitude of effect shown by inclisiran in turn has previously shown a significant effect on heart disease and stroke by other treatments. This is of high importance as the global disease burden from cardiovascular disease is considerable; WHO estimates that 2.6 million deaths due to heart failure and related conditions are caused by high cholesterol levels annually across the world.

The Novartis acquisition of Medicines Company at USD 85 per share is a 24% premium to the last closing price. However, rumors of the deal emerged already during the previous week by the same time as the latest inclisiran data was presented at a medical conference. Hence the one-week premium to the deal price is 64%.

As it looks likely that inclisiran will be an approved drug in 2020, Novartis will be the first large pharma company to own a marketed RNAi drug. And interest in the technology has alerted more large companies to gather rights for potential upcoming RNAi drugs. Last week RNAi specialists Dicerna Pharmaceuticals out-licensed rights to new cardio- and liver-mediated RNAi drugs to Novo Nordisk for a handsome upfront from the Danish pharma company. And three weeks before that, Roche in-licensed rights from Dicerna’s RNAi program in Hepatitis B.

In fact, RNAi news flow has been particularly jam-packed of late. Last week RNAi pioneers Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, that were the discoverers of inclisiran and own royalties from future sales of the drug, announced that the US FDA approved the second ever RNAi drug in a rare and debilitating disease called acute hepatic porphyria, several months before its scheduled due date by the regulatory agency. Alnylam also owns the first RNAi drug that was approved for another rare disorder in 2018.    

 

Arctic Aurora LifeScience is an equity fund investing in global biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. The fund is run by former portfolio manager in the Swedish Governmental Pension Fund AP3, Ulrica Bjerke, as well as Dr. Torbjørn Bjerke, both with 20 years of experience from the market. Arctic Aurora LifeScience was launched in May 2016 with both hedged and un-hedged share classes.

Past performance in Arctic Aurora LifeScience is no guarantee for future returns. Future returns depend on the market, fund manager skill, fund risk level, costs, among others. Performance in the fund may at times be negative and may for this fund vary considerably within periods.