Paul Hudson, head of Novartis group’s pharmaceutical division, has given a long interview to the weekly Finanz und Wirtschaft today. The main topic has been the controversial issue of drug prices and, specifically, Trump administration’s request to pharmaceutical companies to lower prices, or at least not to increase them. Drug prices must reflect both efficacy and development costs, Hudson has said. However, he has added that prices must not be obstacles to patients, therefore Novartis and other large groups have always granted considerable discounts. An exception is gene therapy AVXS-101, for the treatment of spinal muscular atrophy, whose price could be various hundred thousands euros. According to Hudson, this occurs because the treatment has high development costs; additionally, it is an emergency treatment that helps patients avoid alternative, inefficacious treatments. This is why healthcare insurance companies are favorable to the new drug, despite its high price. A similar case is the psoriasis treatment Cosentyx, likely to generate sales of $4-5bn pa. A different case is Entresto: Novartis strongly believed in it, however it has never delivered the expected revenues, since it has never been accepted by healthcare insurance companies. In general terms, Hudson is quite satisfied with the group’s pipeline and future prospects: indeed, Novartis has as many as 13 therapies in its pipeline, with potential to generate at least $1bn each. 2018 has been the year of Aimovig (migraine), Kymriah (DLBCL) and Lutathera (NET). 2019 will see the launch of future blockbusters OMB157 3, BAF312 (SPMS), RTH258 (nAMD) and of gene therapy AVXS-101 (spinal muscular atrophy). In 2020 as many as 6 new drugs with potential to generate billions of dollars should be marketed. Novartis’ rich pipeline justifies the positive estimates by the management, which intends to increase the group’s revenues by 5% pa until 2022.
(Source: Finanz und Wirtschaft)