Novartis aims to beat rivals in new $ 10 billion cancer treatment market

Novartis hopes to cement a first lead in a potential $ 10 billion market for a new type of cancer treatment, called new radioligand therapy, following positive results from its trials.

Vas Narasimhan, chief executive of Novartis, said the pharmaceutical company has great productive capacity and relationships with hospitals, which will have to invest to adapt to provide treatments, leading to a “virtuous cycle” where competitors find it more difficult. to shift the dominance of the company.

“We believe it could be, in the next decade, a market of more than $ 10 billion,” he told the Financial Times. “When you look at the cancers that could be treated, you certainly have the opportunity to go much, much bigger.”

Originally discovered by physicists at CERN, the European organization for nuclear research, radioligand therapy provides radiation to tumors through an infusion, which is more targeted than the radiotherapy tool. Novartis has bought scientists ’company, Advanced Accelerator Applications, for $ 3.9 billion in 2018.

Narasimhan said the results of the trial, published last month, were “quite remarkable”. In a phase 3 trial for the treatment of prostate cancer, Novartis found that it reduced the risk of death by 38 percent, compared to standard care.

The company plans to introduce treatment for regulatory approval in the United States and the EU in the second half of the year. It will develop evidence in previous treatments for prostate cancer and examine its use against other tumors, including in the lungs and brain.

But therapy will require complicated infrastructure, with just-in-time delivery for radioactive treatment and isolated patients while receiving it.

Narasimhan said he thought there could be tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of prostate cancer patients, encouraging clinics to expand in the area.

“We think the prostate cancer will be the breakthrough to really allow for a much wider interest,” he said.

Narasimhan has increased Novartis ’focus on innovative medicines, which include transformative but also complicated-to-deliver Kymriah, a cancer treatment, and Zolgensma, a gene therapy for debilitating spinal muscular atrophy of the genetic disease that is the most expensive drug in the world.

The growth in blockbuster drug sales helped Novartis beat expectations on earnings and revenues in the second quarter. Entresto sales, due to heart failure, increased 46 percent on a constant basis, while Cosentyx, which treats conditions including arthritis and psoriasis, increased 21 percent.

The Swiss pharmaceutical company reported net sales of $ 13 billion, up 14 percent year-on-year, and higher than the consensus forecast for $ 12.5 billion. Core profits per share were $ 1.66, above the analyst’s average estimate of $ 1.52. Net income was $ 2.9bn.

Drug revenues in Oncology have grown 7 percent on a steady rate basis, as some healthcare systems have begun to approach pre-pandemic levels of cancer diagnosis, which had been disrupted by the focus on the treatment of Covid-19 patients.

Novartis has reaffirmed its guidance for the full year 2021 for net sales to grow in the low and medium single digit and core operating income to increase in the single digit average. The forecast assumes that coronavirus restrictions will be relaxed in the second half.

“I think health ministers are becoming more aware of the fact that, in the end, there have been more deaths from cardiovascular disease in many countries than Covid, and then, in cancer, deaths that are approaching killed by Covid, ”Narasimhan said.

But he warned that the repercussions on treatment could be reversed due to the “ups and downs of the Delta variant,” which stimulates an increase in hospital admissions in many countries.

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