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Novartis expects tough 2013 before a return to growth

Says it will take a year for new medicine sales to overcome Diovan patent loss

Novartis headquarters

Novartis will take until 2014 to overcome the effects of patent losses for big selling drugs and return to growth.

The Swiss pharma company said it expects this year's sales to stay flat, while and core operating income is likely to decline by a mid-single digit figure, due mainly to the expected impact of generic completion for the blood pressure treatment Diovan (valsartan).

However, Novartis expects growth in its portfolio of new treatments, including Lucentis, Gilenya, Afinitor and Tasigna, to allow it to report sales growth of at least mid-single digits in 2014 and 2015.

This will be a hard task, considering Diovan and Co-Diovan accounted for $4.42bn of Novartis' sales in 2012, meaning it still amounted to the company's second biggest-selling medicine franchise, despite losing patent protection in the final quarter of the year.

But the company has had a recent run of regulatory and developmental successes, securing 17 major approvals in 2012 – including Afinitor (everolimus) in advanced breast cancer in the US and EU and Jakavi (ruxolitinib) for myelofibrosis in the EU – and CEO Joseph Jimenez said he was confident of the potential of the company's newer products.

“Our pipeline is expected to deliver a record number of near-term approvals and filings, and with our strong global commercial capacity we anticipate 14 products to reach blockbuster status by 2017, up from 8 in 2012,” he said.

Regarding the past year, Novartis posted a slightly unimpressive set of results, with net sales of $56.67bn staying flat at constant currencies, while core net income for year was slightly down on 2011, with Novartis reporting a 3 per cent decline at constant currencies from $13.49bn to $12.81bn.

Things were a little more positive towards the end of the year, with fourth quarter sales up 2 per cent to $14.83bn and core net income up 5 per cent to $3.10bn.

In order to keep the company on track for growth in 2014, Jimenez will receive a helping hand from an old colleague, with the return of former Novartis chief operating officer Dr Jörg Reinhardt, who is set leave his position as chair of Bayer Healthcare to take over as non-executive chair of the board at Novartis.

He will replace Dr David Vasella, who leaves the company he helped form through the merger of Ciba-Geigy and Sandoz in 1996, before serving as CEO and then chair.

24th January 2013

From: Sales

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