R&D, Restructuring

Novartis has scrapped a fifth of its programs in pursuit of ‘truly impactful’ drugs, Bradner reveals

It turns out the wave of global restructuring at Novartis has claimed more than just jobs — it’s also taken a sizable chunk of its research pipeline.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Jay Bradner, president of the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, revealed that the pharma giant has scrapped 90 drug programs after a review, downsizing its portfolio from 430 to 340.

The fate of these assets might range from divestiture to termination to sitting “on the shelf for a little while,” he added, giving way to the “truly impactful, truly differentiated, truly important medicines” his team will now focus on.

Vas Narasimhan

Bradner’s disclosure comes just a day after his newly minted boss — and former global R&D chief — Vas Narasimhan went on the record with STAT elucidating his vision for the Swiss pharma giant “as a leading medicines company powered by digital technologies.”

I also believe we’re in a moment in time where there are new avenues opening up in high-end innovation that can transform the lives of patients and improve public health. I see that as a tremendous opportunity. But you have to focus on it. It can’t just be another thing you add on.

Novartis made a notable exit from antibiotics research that shook the industry in July, cutting staff and putting a group of preclinical assets on sale though it acknowledged “the science for these programs is compelling.”

Bradner expressed a similar sentiment toward the projects being shedded, which include the infectious diseases pipeline.

“The sadness about these 90 projects is there’s some great science there,” Bradner told Bloomberg. “These are not bad ideas. Many of them have momentum, but they either are not likely to be transformative for patients, or are ill-suited to the focused business ambitions of Novartis.”

Jay Bradner, President of the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research (NIBR). JEFF RUMANS, ENDPOINTS NEWS

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