Big Pharma Earnings Watch: Novartis

Apr 24, 2019

Novartis Beats Profit Forecasts After Jacking Up Prices On Dozens Of Drugs

Big Pharma company Novartis announced higher than expected earnings today – beating forecasts and upping its projected profits for the year.

How did the Swiss drug manufacturer make that happen?  By price-gouging American patients.

Reports in December 2018 indicated Novartis planned to raise prices on more than 100 indications of over 30 different drugs in 2019, including a multiple sclerosis drug, an arthritis treatment and a leukemia treatment.

  • Novartis Announced Price Increases On Drugs Sold In The U.S. “A spokesperson said that the company will be raising list prices on 14% of the drugs it sells in the U.S., with an average list price increase of 4.7%.  But rebates and discounts will result in a 5% net price decrease across the company’s U.S. portfolio.” (Caitlin Owens, “Nearly 30 Drugmakers To Raise Prices In 2019,”Axios, 12/20/18)

In January, Novartis raised the price on three of its leading drugs:

  • Novartis Increased Prices On Three Of Their Top Performing Drugs, Which Are Expected To Earn An Additional $1 Billion Dollars For The Company. “In addition to Cosentyx (secukinumab) and Entresto (sacubitril/valsartan), Novartis also raised the list price on Gilenya (fingolimod) by 4.5%.  Those three medicines combined to earn Novartis nearly $4 billion in U.S. sales last year, Cowen estimates, a figure which is expected to grow to nearly $5 billion in 2019.”(Andrew Dunn, “Pfizer, Novartis, Amgen Add To 2019 Drug Price Hikes,” Biopharma Dive, 1/25/19)

In response to today’s earnings announcement, Novartis CEO Vasant Narasimhan said he was “very happy” with the quarter and that the company hopes to “build on the momentum” – a strong signal that the drug maker isn’t likely to change course on raising prices any time soon.

Big Pharma drug makers are now two for two in beating projected first quarter earnings – with Johnson & Johnson announcing last week it also surpassed its first-quarter forecasts.  More Q1 earnings from the world’s top drug manufacturers will be announced in the coming days, including AbbVie, Bristol-Myers Squibb, AstraZeneca, Sanofi, Amgen, Eli Lilly, Merck and Pfizer.

When one in four Americans can’t afford the medicine they need to live, it’s unacceptable that Big Pharma continues to jack up prices to pad their bottom line.  CSRxP urges policymakers in Washington to keep the bipartisan momentum going to hold drug makers accountable and enact market-based solutions that rein in out-of-control prices and crack down on Big Pharma’s anti-competitive tactics.