Novartis maintains profit in Q3 and defends flu vaccines

Hannah Blake

pharmaphorum

Novartis has reported a net profit of $2.48 billion in the third quarter, which was more or less the same as last year’s equivalent of $2.49 billion. The Swiss pharma company also shared its lower-than-expected third quarter sales, largely due to the expiry of a US patent on its top-selling blood pressure drug, Diovan (valsartan). The estimated forecast for Novartis’ net sales was US $14,032 billion, but in reality, net sales fell 2% to US $13,807 billion.

However, while Diovan lost its exclusivity in the US causing sales to fall by 32% in Q3, Novartis remains confident that its pharmaceuticals portfolio is “well-positioned to defend against generic competition”. Products, such as Lucentis (ranibizumab injection), multiple sclerosis drug, Gilenya (fingolimod) and advanced breast cancer treatment, Afinitor (everolimus), continued to perform strongly in this quarter, contributing to 29% group net sales. This is a 25% increase from the same period last year.

“While Novartis net sales were impacted by the patent expiration of Diovan and a down quarter in Sandoz and Consumer Health, our launch brands performed well and now represent 29% of Group sales. Pharmaceuticals had another solid quarter. Our excellent record on innovation continues with new approvals for innovative products like Afinitor in advanced breast cancer, the recent EU filing of QVA149 in COPD and encouraging news in heart failure. I am confident that this improves the long-term growth prospects of the business.”

Joseph Jimenez, CEO of Novartis.

Meanwhile, Novartis is also currently defending its range of flu drugs, after they were banned in Italy earlier this week. Italy’s health ministry banned the sale of four flu drugs for possible side-effects while Switzerland’s regulator, Swissmedic, also suspended deliveries of Novartis’ flu vaccines as a preventative measure against possible contamination.

In a statement released by Novartis on the 25th October, the company said that it:

“…confirms its confidence in the safety and efficacy of its seasonal influenza vaccines Agrippal® and Fluad® manufactured in Italy. Patient safety is of the highest priority to Novartis. Novartis internal assessments and the clinical data gathered during the 2012-2013 seasonal influenza studies required for European licensure of Agrippal and Fluad demonstrate a safety and immunogenicity profile similar to that of prior years. To date, data from the ongoing seasonal vaccination campaign have revealed no safety signals.”

Novartis has stated it will continue to work with the Italian Ministry of Health and the Association of Independent Financial Advisers (AIFA) in order to resolve these issues.

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Related news:

Novartis sales disappoint as Diovan patent loss bites (Reuters)

Novartis defends flu drugs, posts flat Q3 profits (Bloomberg Businessweek)

Reference links:

Novartis Q3 press release

Novartis flu vaccines press release 

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