Lilly to Acquire Obesity Drug Maker Versanis

17.07.2023 - Major drugmaker Eli Lilly has agreed to acquire Versanis Bio, a privately held obesity drug maker, for up to $1.925 billion. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions.

Versanis is developing treatments for cardiometabolic diseases. Its lead candidate, the monoclonal antibody bimagreumab, is already in a Phase 2 trial both alone and in combination with semaglutide in adults who are overweight or obese. According to the company, the treatment could lead to better treatment outcomes in people living with obesity and its associated complications.

Novo Nordisk’s GLP-1 receptor agonist semaglutide—which is marketed as Wegovy to treat obesity—is an incretin-based therapy. Lilly explained that “combining incretins with bimagrumab has the potential to further reduce fat mass while preserving muscle mass and may lead to better outcomes for people living with obesity and obesity-related complications.”

Ruth Gimeno, group vice president, diabetes, obesity and cardiometabolic research at Lilly, said: "By unifying the knowledge and expertise in incretin biology at Lilly with the deep understanding of activin biology at Versanis, we aim to harness the potential benefits of such combinations for patients."

Mark Pruzanski, Versanis chairman and CEO, added: "As a global leader developing life-changing medicines, Lilly is ideally positioned to realize the potential of bimagrumab in combination with its incretin therapies to benefit people living with cardiometabolic diseases."

Under the terms of the agreement, Versanis shareholders could receive up to $1.925 billion in cash, inclusive of an upfront payment and subsequent payments upon achievement of certain development and sales milestones.