Novartis ups 2019 guidance after strong Q2


Novartis has revised its guidance for 2019 upwards after a strong set of Q2 figures, with its psoriasis drug Cosentyx being the star performer.

Cosentyx (secukinumab) has been on the market for several years and continues to build its presence despite strong competition from rival drugs from Eli Lilly and Valeant.

Sales of Cosentyx were up a reported 22% compared with last year’s Q2, to $858 million.

However sales of Novartis’ MS drug Gilenya are beginning to slide because of the competitive nature of this section of the market.

Not helped by currency headwinds, sales of the Swiss firm’s second biggest seller were down a reported 5% to $825 million, not helped by currency headwinds.

There is also a potential threat from generic competitors to Gilenya – although late last month a US court blocked a group of generics firms including Dr Reddy’s and Mylan from launching cut price rivals.

Novartis said its sales forecasts assume that no Gilenya generics launch in the US market in 2019, while a court case is pending.

Results also included a one-off net gain of $4.7 billion from the sell-off of Novartis’ ophthalmology division, Alcon, although this has yet to affect operating results.

Overall innovative drug sales were up 5% to $9.3 billion and generic competition had a negative impact of 1 percentage point.

Net sales were up 4% to nearly $11.8 million, although net income was sharply down 73% to $2.1 billion.

This was because of a one-off windfall, as this time last year Novartis sold its share in a consumer health joint venture to partner GlaxoSmithKline.

Barring unforeseen events, Novartis revised net sales forecasts upwards to mid to high single digit growth in constant currency terms.

Estimates excluded Alcon and US oral solid businesses, which are being sold as CEO Vas Narasimhan focuses on developing more innovative drugs.

In constant currencies Novartis said its Innovative Medicines unit will grow in the mid to high single digit range, while its Sandoz generics and biosimilars unit will grow in the low single digit range.

Core operating income was revised upwards to low double digit to mid-teens, although currency effects will likely take the edge off these figures by around three percentage points on sales and four percentage points on operating income.