Danish healthcare group Novo Nordisk, a world leader in diabetes care, has restructured its existing relationship with the USA’s Aradigm, putting $27.5 million on the table to acquire certain patent rights to strengthen its insulin Diabetes Management System, AERx iDMS. The news sparked a 29% rise in Aradigm stock.

AERx iDMS is Novo Nordisk’s electronic delivery system for administering human insulin by inhalation, which moved into Phase III development earlier this year. The patents it has bought from Aradigm relate to the administration of proteins via inhalation, further cementing the group’s foothold in inhalable insulin arena.

Under the terms of the agreement, as well as $27.5 million, Aradigm gains: a royalty-free licence to the acquired patents for potential use outside of diabetes; future royalties on sales; and temporary financial backing from Novo Nordisk secured against future royalties.

The race to get the first non-injectable insulin through the regulatory process was recently won by the world’s number one drugmaker, Pfizer, which obtained the go-ahead in the USA and Europe earlier this year to market its rival product Exubera, with scheduled market launches just around the corner.

Exubera has been widely predicted to become a $1 billion-plus product but was recently dealt a blow when the UK’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence said it would not approve its use under the National Health Service unless patients had a specialist-diagnosed phobia of needles.