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Novartis grows in Q3 thanks to stellar performance of key drugs

Cosentyx, Entresto and Zolgensma topped drive sales growth

Novartis

Novartis has raised its full-year guidance thanks to the growth of a number of its key medicines and its generics unit Sandoz. 

The Swiss pharma reported net sales of $12.2bn, a growth of 13%, and a core net income of $3.2bn. This is well above the consensus revenue estimate of $11.68bn predicted prior to the announcement of the results. A number of key drugs led the growth, with impressive sales in the respective therapy areas.

Coming out on top with $937m in sales was Novartis’ psoriasis drug Cosentyx (secukinumab) which grew 27% over the quarter. The drug has been outpacing expectations since its launch, and the Swiss pharma is looking to expand its use into additional indications to help it continue on the blockbuster trajectory.

This could be helped with a new approval in non-radiographic axial spondyloarthritis (nr-axSpA) – Novartis reported positive phase 3 data for Consentyx in this indication earlier this month, as it preps for a filing with hopes for a swift, easy approval.

Following Consentyx is heart failure drug Entresto (sacubitril/valsartan), which grew 61% to bring in $430m sales in the quarter. Sales of the drug have been growing rapidly, but a recent blow in in a trial of patients with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF) has created doubt over potentially billions of dollars of revenue.

Novartis has also been facing increasing competition in this therapy area, from the likes of Eli Lilly/Boehringer Ingelheim’s Jardiance and AstraZeneca’s Farxiga. Both drugs are being tested in HFpEF, and are due to generate results in 2020.

The third highest sales growth was of SMA gene therapy Zolgensma (onasemnogene abeparvovec), which brought in $160m in sales in the third quarter, following its launch earlier this year. The therapy is currently under regulatory review in Europe and Japan, with decisions expected in 2020.

According to Reuters, Novartis has faced delays of these approvals thanks to regulator concerns about manufacturing, rather than the data manipulation scandal which has unfolded over the last few months. The FDA in the US is still investigating the data manipulation – Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan (pictured below) has said however that “for both regulators (Europe and Japan), the written questions have not related specifically to any of the data topics we’ve had recently”.

Vas

Vas Narasimhan, Novartis CEO

The drugmaker’s generics unit Sandoz also reported a growth, bringing in $2.5bn in the third quarter despite being partially offset by price erosion. The growth was driven by the unit’s biopharmaceutical sales in Europe, with US sales broadly in line with the previous year.

“Novartis continued its excellent performance this quarter with double digit increases in sales and core operating income with growing margins. We increased our full year sales and core operating income guidance with growth continuing in both Innovative Medicines and Sandoz,” said Narasimhan.

Following the growth of these products, Novartis has now revised its net sales, with expected growth now in the high single-digit percentage rate, up from the mid to high single-digit range predicted in the last quarter.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

22nd October 2019

From: Sales

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