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New drugs help Novartis shrug off Gleevec competition

However, warns of lesser profits this year as firm looks to boost promotion of Entresto
Novartis

Novartis has managed to maintain sales in the second quarter of the year, despite facing the first full quarter of generic competition to cancer blockbuster Gleevec in the US.

The Swiss pharma major reported sales of $12.47bn in the quarter - down 2% but flat at constant exchange rates compared to the same period of 2015 - thanks to solid growth for new immunotherapeutic Cosentyx (secukinumab) and oral multiple sclerosis therapy Gilenya (fingolimod).

However, Novartis has warned that it may see profits fall this year as it plans to spend an extra $200m to promote new heart failure therapy Entresto (sacubitril/valsartan), which continues to make slow headway in the market.

Entresto added just $32m to Novartis' coffers in the quarter, although the company says it is predicting around $200m in sales for the full year.

It will be building a US primary care salesforce for the drug - earlier than expected - after Entresto was added to heart failure guidelines on both sides of the Atlantic, and has already announced a wide-ranging clinical trials programme for the new product.

Sales of chronic myeloid leukaemia drug Gleevec (imatinib) fell by a quarter to $891m, but Novartis will take heart that follow-up Tasigna (nilotinib) continued to grow despite the availability of the cheaper Gleevec generic, rising 15% to $458m.

Meanwhile, sales of psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis therapy Cosentyx rocketed to $260m in the quarter, up from $30m a year ago, setting it on course to top $1bn for the full year. Gilenya continued its strong run with 17% growth to $811m.

Novartis chief executive Joe Jimenez said the company is prepared to invest in Entresto as well as other key projects in the firm's pipeline.

He highlighted Cosentyx' efficacy in follow-up indications, the early halt of a pivotal trial of CDK4/6 inhibitor LEE011 (ribociclib) in breast cancer and a study showing superiority of Ultibro (indacaterol/glycopyrronium) versus Advair/Seretide (fluticasone/salmeterol) in chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder.

Article by
Phil Taylor

19th July 2016

From: Sales

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