Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan: We can do better at R&D, but we need FDA’s help; J&J gets $2.1B bid for LifeScan

→ Why has medical innovation in cardiovascular diseases stagnated even as other therapeutic areas have thrived? Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan thinks a shift from broad-based development strategies to a more focused medicines approach is needed, and drug makers, regulators and payers all have a role to play.

Vas Narasimhan

In a column published in Fortune this week, Narasimhan argues that pharma companies need to be better at precision medicine in this field: categorizing patients, tracking biomarkers, and using more real world data. They can’t, however, do it alone; regulators must adopt their policies to recognize “scientifically robust subgroup data” for that to work. Lastly, he wrote, payers could make it easier for patients by implementing value-based reimbursement strategies. Given the case Novartis has been pitching for canakinumab, Narasimhan has a stake in pushing for all this: “There’s been much discussion on this topic, but the time to act is now.”

J&J $JNJ has received a $2.1 billion bid from serial buyout investor Platinum Equity, which wants to snatch up the pharma giant’s diabetes care company LifeScan. A major maker of blood glucose monitoring products, LifeScan brought in $1.5 billion in revenue for J&J in 2017. If Platinum takes over the operations, the company’s president Valerie Asbury would continue leading the business under new ownership, Platinum said in a statement. Last year, J&J said it was evaluating options for its diabetes care companies — specifically LifeScan, Animas Corp, and Calibra Medical — as sales have been falling since 2012. J&J has until June to accept Platinum’s offer.

→ Bavarian Nordic signed a $36 million alliance with the US Department of Defense to develop a prophylactic vaccine against the equine encephalitis virus — a rare mosquito-borne illness. With funding from the DoD, Bavarian Nordic will use its MVA-BN platform to develop a vaccine against various strains of the virus.

With contribution by John Carroll.

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Research Scientist - Immunology
Recursion Pharmaceuticals Salt Lake City, UT
Director of Operations
Atlas Venture Cambridge, MA

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