Novartis CEO Showcases Company Growth Prior to Meet Management Event


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Novartis Chief Executive Officer Vas Narasimhan is excited about the path the Swiss pharma giant is taking, particularly as the company is heading into what is seen as an “exciting growth phase” featuring multiple drug launches.

Thursday, the company opened the doors to its research headquarters in Cambridge. Mass. to investors and analysts to showcase the company’s focus on becoming a leading medicines company.

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“Our pipeline is industry-leading with more than 25 potential blockbusters and this pace of innovation positions Novartis well for the future,” Narasimhan said ahead of the company’s annual Meet Novartis Management event.

The event, which includes multiple breakout sessions, aims to offer the investors and analysts a deeper view into the company’s ongoing strategic process. Since taking over at Novartis, Narasimhan has been transforming the company at all levels, divesting non-core products, spinning off its eye-care business Alcon into a standalone business unit and increasing the company’s R&D focus on oncology and gene therapies, which are seen as significant drivers of future revenues. That reshaping of the company also included the culling of one-fifth of Novartis’ research programs.

During the meeting today, the company will highlight some of its revenue-driving assets, including psoriasis treatment Cosentyx and Entresto, a heart failure medication. Those drugs are likely to be joined by five potential blockbusters, Novartis said. Those drugs include multiple sclerosis treatment Mayzent, which was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in February, and Zolgensma, a gene therapy for spinal muscular atrophy that is currently under regulatory review. Other drugs that could be blockbusters include the ophthalmology medicine Brolucizumab, Ofatumumab, an oncology drug, and asthma drug Fevipiprant, the company said.

In addition to those drugs, the company will also focus on its oncology pipeline, including growth opportunities in targeted therapy, cell therapy, radioligand therapy, with significant inroads made through the acquisitions of Advanced Accelerator Applications and Endocyte, as well as immunotherapy. Novartis noted that investors will see how its oncology pipeline is positioned for significant growth over the next several years. Currently, the company’s oncology portfolio has seven in-market blockbusters and three potential blockbusters that recently launched. By integrating the best internal and external innovations, Novartis is positioned to continue to lead in oncology, the company said.

Over the course of the day, Novartis will also provide updates on the continued evolution of Sandoz. In April, the company snapped up GlaxoSmithKline veteran Richard Saynor to helm the subsidiary. Since taking over at Novartis, Narasimhan initiated a number of changes for its generics business. In September, the company sold U.S. dermatology and generic drug assets that were under the Sandoz umbrella to India’s Aurobindo Pharma. Novartis sees significant growth opportunities for Sandoz outside the United States. In the U.S., there is significant pricing pressure, Novartis said, but approximately 70 percent of Sandoz sales come from outside the US where sales are growing.

The Sandoz unit is also home to Novartis’ biosimilar programs. Sandoz currently has eight biosimilars on the market and more than 10 in its developmental pipeline.

“Sandoz is shaping its portfolio to drive sustainable and profitable growth,” Novartis said. “The division is becoming leaner and more agile to drive sustainable sales and margin growth in a rapidly-moving generics environment.”

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