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Novartis hit by ‘COVID-19-related lockdowns’ in Q4

Sales grew in the quarter but profits fell short of forecasts

Novartis has cited ‘COVID-19-related lockdowns’ for the negative impact on some therapeutic areas in its business, but sales grew despite profits falling short of expectations in Q4.

Despite seeing some impact from COVID-19, Novartis posted an increase in net sales of 3% in Q4 2020 to $12.77bn, compared to the same period last year.

The Swiss pharma company posted a net profit of $2.1bn, which came in under the projected consensus forecast by FactSet that put expected net profit at $2.77bn.

In an update posted along with the Q4 results, Novartis said that ‘COVID-19-related lockdowns’ had negatively impacted certain therapeutic areas.

This included its ophthalmology and dermatology therapy areas, where uptake is usually supported by doctors and pharmacy visits.

Novartis also said that pandemic-associated restrictions affected its Sandoz retail business in certain locations.

“Novartis delivered a solid performance in 2020 across our strategic priorities, despite the challenges of COVID-19. Operationally, we grew sales and continued to improve core operating margins for Innovative Medicines,” said Vas Narasimhan, chief executive officer of Novartis.

“Looking ahead, we are confident that the progress we have made on our strategic priorities as a focused medicines company will result in top and bottom line growth through 2025,” he added.

In the Q4 results, Novartis highlighted its main growth drivers – including its heart failure drug Entresto (sacubitril/valsartan), its immunology therapy Cosentyx (secukinumab) and its spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) gene therapy Zolgensma (onasemnogene abeparvovec).

Entresto led the charge in Q4, growing 35% in the period to bring in a total of $716m, while Cosentyx sales increased by 13% to $109m.

Zolgensma also saw strong growth, bringing in a sales increase of 33% in the quarter to $254m, which Novartis mainly attributed to expansion outside the US – particularly in the EU and Japan.

Looking ahead to 2021, Novartis expects net sales to grow in the low-to-mid single digits, while it has forecast mid single digit growth in its core operating income.

"2020 was definitely a year like no other, but the external environment did not stop us from doing what we’re passionate about and that is bringing medicines to patients,” Novartis Pharmaceuticals president Marie-France Tschudin said in a Q4 earnings call yesterday.

“Our teams have worked hard and demonstrated great agility and resilience and I’m very proud of this team. Our 2021 strategy builds on the good work that has been done,” she added.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

27th January 2021

From: Sales

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