Novartis’ chief executive said that the firm’s supply chain was not being disrupted by the coronavirus as the Swiss drugmaker predicted rising profit in 2020.
Next year the firm has predicted net sales growth of a mid-to-high single digit percentage, as well as a high-single to low-double-digit increase in operating income.
Novartis’ fourth-quarter results saw net income increase 11 per cent to $2.99bn, driven largely by sales of new gene therapy drug Zolgensma, as well as consistent high performers Cosentyx and Entresto.
Speaking about the outbreak to the media, Vas Narasimhan said: “We’re working to support the public health infrastructure in China, as best we can, with our local teams. We don’t see any disruptions to our supply chain at this point in time.”
The company has asked staff in China to work from home until 10 February, and has also suspended all business travel to Wuhan.
Novartis’ business interests in the country are growing rapidly, now accounting for more than $2bn in annual income. In 2019 the firm’s operations in the country saw double-digit growth.
The firm is also pushing ahead with its innovation, launching a record five new drugs in 2019, including new treatments for breast cancer and multiple sclerosis.
In addition, the Geneva-headquartered firm span off its eye products company into a independent entity in 2019, as well as acquiring US firm The Medicines Company for nearly $10bn.
Narasimhan said: “Novartis delivered an exceptional 2019. Strong sales growth drove double digit increases in core operating income and free cash flow.
“Significant margin expansion puts us on track to reach mid to high 30s core margin for Innovative Medicines in the mid-term.
“We launched an unprecedented 5 new molecular entities in 2019 and advanced a breadth of early programs in our pipeline that address significant unmet needs.
“Looking ahead, we expect to sustain our long-term growth and margin expansion driven by our in market growth drivers and the 15 ongoing or upcoming major launches, while advancing our rich pipeline”, he finished.