Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan lines up his late-stage blockbuster contenders — mixing old favorites and add-ons
Every Big Pharma company is judged by its late-stage pipeline and the number of prospective blockbusters in play. Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan is giving his pivotal strategy top marks today as the giant player reviews its development game plan in the wake of a couple of key setbacks.
Adding it all up, Novartis is using its R&D review to highlight a tally of 26 blockbusters in the pipeline, 13 projects in what is now grouped into cell, gene and radioligand work — adding radiopharmaceuticals to the group — while aiming for 60 “major” regulatory submissions from 2019-2022. And it’s already lining up promised approvals for next year, betting that they can shoot for key regulatory OKs based on the data in hand.
The move to ease concerns about the company’s future revenues comes after Novartis reported that the FDA had rejected its big application to sell canakinumab for heart disease, wiping out one of their earlier boasts, with a decision on the generics side of the business to throw in the towel on a Rituxan copycat rather than try to make a mark as a runner-up in that heavily contested field.
Of all the Big Pharma players, Novartis has been one of the least reluctant to promote the scale of its in-house work, with lots of big numbers when it comes to future opportunities for drugs that can earn $1 billion or more per year. Even in late-stage development, though, the odds of success can be daunting — and Novartis will find plenty of challenges in getting these drugs to market.
Keep in mind, Novartis is one of the top spenders in R&D, with a budget of close to $9 billion last year — just behind Roche and Merck. And that raises the bar considerably on their performance in an era of steadily dwindling ROI for the top companies in drug development.
Here are the top drugs now spotlighted in late-stage development at Novartis:
Not all of these drugs will make it, but they do help raise the bar for R&D performance in this sector as other Big Pharma rivals angle in with their own development strategies. Novartis has also shown that it’s capable of surprise, so don’t expect this tally to remain static through 2019.
Image: Vas Narasimhan. AP IMAGES