Boerhinger Ingelheim grows cancer care product line by buying NBE Therapeutics
… Boerhinger Ingelheim buys oncology therapy innovator NBE Therapeutics …

Boehringer Ingelheim Acquiring NBE Therapeutics For $1.5 Billion

NBE Therapeutics’ novel oncology clinical technology is sought by Boehringer Ingelheim to boost new cancer drug development pipeline


John G. Baresky

Privately-held global pharmaceutical leader Boehringer Ingelheim has announced it is acquiring NBE Therapeutics for $1.5 billion. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, NBE was founded in 2012 and specializes in the development of new, advanced oncology therapies based on highly differentiated antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) elements.

NBE-Therapeutics’ iADC platform is a significant clinical asset that Boehringer Ingelheim covets as it will fortify their ability to create new tumor-targeting therapies they can fully develop and commercialize. The strategic oncology-focused acquisition is the third in as many years for Boehringer Ingelheim as it follows these earlier deals:

  • $398 million for AMAL Therapeutics (immunotherapies and oncology vaccines developed through its proprietary KISIMA platform) in 2019
  • $257 million for Vira Therapeutics (oncolytic cancer-destroying viruses and specifically its proprietary oncolytic virus, VSV-GP) in 2018

NBE product pipeline details

NBE’s leading candidate is NBE-002 (a monoclonal antibody “mAb”) that is being developed as a potential treatment for triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) plus lung and/or ovarian cancer. Another candidate in NBE’s product development lineup, NBE-105, is intended for the treatment of solid tumors.

Boehringer Ingelheim also has new cancer product research partnerships underway with:

  • Exelixis, a genomics-focused enterprise based in Alameda, California
  • SOTIO, an immunotherapy biotechnology company headquartered in Prague, Czech Republic

Boehringer seeks to build out its oncology business unit

Through partnering with Exelixis and SOTIO plus buying NBE Therapeutics (which is also privately held) and acquiring AMAL and Vira, Boehringer is amplifying its plans to build up its line of cancer treatment therapies. Their oncology research strategy focuses primarily on two approaches:

  • Cancer cell-directed therapies
  • Immune cell-directed therapies.

A global competitor in multiple biotech and pharmaceutical market sectors

Boehringer Ingelheim is based in Ingelheim am Rhein, Germany; its U.S. headquarters is located in Ridgefield, Connecticut. Founded in 1885, it produced over $23 billion in annual sales during 2019. Their present portfolio of pharmaceutical products spans several competitive categories including:

  • Cardiovascular
  • Central Nervous System (CNS)
  • Immunology
  • Metabolic
  • Oncology
  • Respiratory
  • Retinal

Boehringer Ingelheim is also a leader in:

  • Companion animal and livestock veterinary medicines
  • Biopharmaceutical contract manufacturing

2020 has been a busy year for companies doing business in cancer care

Oncology-related deals are plentiful in the healthcare industry this year. These and other large-scale business maneuvers have taken place so companies can accelerate their cancer treatment research & development capabilities and improve their competitive position with new, advanced products:

Oncology is a high-risk, high reward sector for pharmaceutical and diagnostic companies. The high costs of developing new cancer treatment products prevent many companies from creating and commercializing new products from start to finish. Numerous products simply do not prove themselves safe and effective beyond Phase II.

Licensing and merger & acquisition deals are pivotal strategies of pharma and diagnostic companies competing in oncology

Mid to large-sized biotech and pharmaceutical manufacturers as well as diagnostic companies maintain their own internal research & development programs in oncology. They supplement them through licensing and acquisition deals with smaller firms that develop new product candidates.

The smaller enterprises lack the comprehensive clinical expertise plus deep financial resources necessary to see them through the complete process of development, clinical trials and regulatory approval followed by commercialization and product launch stages.

The Boehringer Ingelheim acquisitions of NBE Therapeutics, AMAL Therapeutics and Vira Therapeutics mirror this scenario that seeks to profitably create better cancer treatment products faster for patients and medical professionals.

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