Emisphere Technologies has entered an agreement with Novo Nordisk to develop and commercialise oral formulations of four molecules targeting metabolic indications, including diabetes and obesity.

Under the deal, the company looks to develop new oral formulations of Novo Nordisk’s investigational molecules targeting major metabolic disorders using Emisphere’s oral Eligen drug-delivery technology.

The deal is expected to generate more than $200m for Emisphere.

Novo Nordisk now has the exclusive right to develop potential product candidates in three molecule classes, as well as the non-exclusive right to develop potential product candidates in a fourth molecule class, using the Eligen Technology.

In return for the licence, Emisphere will receive $5m upfront licensing fee and eligible to receive up to $62.5m in development and sales milestone payments for each of the three exclusively licensed molecule classes, as well as up to $20m in development milestone payments for the non-exclusively licensed molecule class.

"The deal is expected to generate more than $200m for Emisphere."

In addition, Emisphere is expected to receive royalties on sales of each successfully commercialised product.

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Novo Nordisk Global Research senior vice-president Peter Kurtzhals said: "We are delighted to have broadened our collaboration with Emisphere for access to their Eligen Technology under this new development and license agreement."

In addition, Novo Nordisk has been granted an option to develop and commercialise any additional investigational molecules.

If Novo Nordisk exercises its option, Emisphere would be entitled to receive an additional payment upon the exercise of each option for exclusive or non-exclusive development rights for each molecule class.

However, both firms have amended their existing GLP-1 (semaglutide) licence agreement by adding terms that include a $9m payment to Emisphere from Novo Nordisk as prepayment of a product development milestone, in exchange for lower future royalty payments.

Emisphere chief executive officer Alan Rubino said: "Novo Nordisk has been an important partner for many years and this expanded partnership further validates the Eligen Technology and its ability to facilitate absorption from the gastrointestinal tract.

"We have been intensely focused on transforming Emisphere into a robust commercial and development organisation, seeking to identify and establish new, value-creating licensing opportunities for our Eligen Technology to major pharmaceutical companies, while realising the significant market potential of our proprietary oral Eligen B12 product.

"This agreement with Novo Nordisk represents the first significant accomplishment in this ongoing, transformational effort and we look forward to future successes resulting from our global business development strategy."

The Eligen Technology uses proprietary, synthetic chemical compounds, known as Emisphere delivery agents, or carriers, and makes it possible to deliver a therapeutic molecule without altering its chemical form or biological integrity.