Shortly after it was rumored that Novartis was in talks to acquire German cancer biotech MorphoSys AG — the pharma giant officially announced the move.

Novartis will buy MorphoSys for $2.9 billion in a move to expand its oncology pipeline as well as its hematology efforts.

The Swiss company will gain access to pelabresib, an investigational treatment for a type of bone marrow cancer known as myelofibrosis.

Novartis will also obtain rights to tulmimetostat, a dual inhibitor of enhancer of zeste homolog 1 and 2 proteins that’s being examined in patients with solid tumors or lymphomas.

“With the planned acquisition of MorphoSys, we aim to further strengthen our leading pipeline and portfolio in oncology, adding to our capabilities and expertise,” said Shreeram Aradhye, president of development and chief medical officer at Novartis, in a statement. “Building on our long-standing development partnership with MorphoSys, we look forward to continuing our work together to realize the full impact and value of their investigational medicines for patients with unmet needs.”

Currently, pelabresib is being investigated in combination with ruxolitinib. In its Phase 3 MANIFEST-2 study, the combination therapy reached its primary endpoint of spleen volume reduction in JAK inhibitor-naive patients with myelofibrosis.

It was also effective in overall symptom improvement, and met secondary endpoints in absolute and 50% change in total symptom score (TSS) at week 24 compared to baseline. The therapy managed to improve all four clinical hallmarks of myelofibrosis, including splenomegaly, disease-associated symptoms, anemia and bone marrow fibrosis.

“We are excited about the opportunity of bringing pelabresib, a potential next-generation treatment combined with ruxolitinib, to people living with myelofibrosis, a rare and debilitating form of blood cancer,” Aradhye added.

Novartis’ acquisition of MorphoSys comes one week after it released its latest financials, including an earnings miss per consensus analyst expectations for Q4 2023.

Novartis’ quarterly core EPS was $1.53 and net sales totaled $11.4 billion, both year-over-year increases, though below analyst estimates. The drugmaker’s operating income for the quarter hit $2.5 billion, up 47% year-over-year, while its net income reached $2.6 billion, up 101%.

For an April 2024 article on Novartis raising guidance following strong Q1 earnings, click here.