Before Organon even launched, the new women’s health company spun out from Merck & Co. announced the acquisition of Alydia Health. On launch day yesterday, company executives put out a call for similarly minded companies to come under their wing.
“The start line is today for the launch of the Organon organization,” said Organon’s Simon Nicholson, managing director of the U.K. and European neighborhood instrument cluster. He spoke to Fierce Biotech an hour after the company rang the bell at the New York Stock Exchange. “The start line for our growth and augmentation of the portfolio through business development started months and months ago.”
Organon does not as of yet have much of a clinical program, but it wants to change that—and quickly. The new company’s goals are lofty, with three pillars of the business: women’s health, biosimilars and established brands.
Nicholson says the company is looking out for “all of the above” acquisition targets, meaning companies that fall within their three pillars in biotech, medtech, diagnostics and healthcare services.
“The only common thread through that strategy … is that if it delivers in some way on our vision of a better and healthier everyday for women, then we're interested and we've got the scale and the capital to invest,” Nicholson said.
Women’s health isn’t as simple as just contraceptives and fertility or endometriosis and uterine fibroids—all important issues, Nicholson noted. Organon also wants to look at health issues that might disproportionately affect women such as cardiovascular problems and pain management.
CEO Kevin Ali almost certainly shut the door on buying up assets that other Big Pharmas are trying to offload, such as AbbVie’s women’s health portfolio, which has been valued at $5 billion. The company is instead hoping to pick up smaller, promising assets, similar to the Alydia Health acquisition Merck slid into Organon’s purview before the spinout was official for $240 million.
Alydia, a biotech device company, brought to Organon a device for postpartum hemorrhage. A quarter of women who give birth will experience abnormal bleeding after birth, and 10% require serious intervention such as a transfusion or surgery.
Even though Organon spun out from Merck, Nicholson said the newco’s interests and assets they may pursue “will be different to what they would have been 12 months ago.” He calls the difference subtle, but important.
“Our first step is to listen,” Nicholson said. The company is talking to stakeholders in women’s health around the world, which will help inform Organon’s R&D and business development strategy.
Organon has the prestige of Big Pharma in terms of the Merck name recognition and broad reach with 9,000 employees across 140 countries, but Nicholson said it’s also organized to be “flat,” which means the company can respond quickly to unmet needs the turn up.
Nicholson said the U.S.-based business development team has already had multiple dialogues with interesting companies.
“That significant unmet need [is] there, and whilst there are some amazing companies focusing on women's health—for me, this isn't about a competitive thing. The more focus on women's health, the better,” Nicholson said. “It just happens to be there's an organization at the scale of Organon now that's going to be obsessed with that women’s health focus.”