Most exciting ever Novartis drug points to huge sales

Written by Reuters | Barcelona | Updated: Sep 2 2014, 08:00am hrs
Sales forecasts for Novartis new heart failure drug are being ramped up by analysts after strikingly good clinical trial results for a medicine doctors expect to transform treatment of the deadly disease.

Shares in the Swiss drugmaker jumped over 3% to a record high on Monday as data for LCZ696 released at the weekend beat expectations, showing the medicine slashed deaths and hospitalisations, worked across all groups of patients, and had no serious side effects.

David Epstein, Novartis head of pharmaceuticals, said the launch of the drug next year promised to be the companys most exciting ever and profit margins on the medicine would be good. Investigators working on the study and the company itself believe it has potential to replace drugs that have been central to treating heart failure for a quarter of century, opening up a multi-billion dollar sales opportunity. It will be possibly the most exciting launch the company has ever had, Epstein said.

A big question mark remains the price of the drug, which Epstein is not discussing yet, although he said it would be reasonable.

Industry analysts believe it could be priced at around $7-8 a day in the all-important US market and less in Europe. With a compelling clinical profile and very little in the pipelines of other companies in terms of competing products, Novartis looks to be in a strong position.