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November 1, 2018

Novartis to cut drug research projects by 20%

Novartis is reportedly planning to cease approximately 20% of its drug research projects, following a strategic review, in order to focus on other priority therapeutic areas.

Novartis is reportedly planning to cease approximately 20% of its drug research projects, following a strategic review, in order to focus on other priority therapeutic areas.

According to Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research president Jay Bradner, the company will cut its programmes from 430 to 340.

Amongst the abandoned projects will be the Swiss pharmaceutical firm’s infectious diseases research.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Bradner said: “The sadness about these 90 projects is there’s some great science there. These are not bad ideas.

“Many of them have momentum, but they either are not likely to be transformative for patients or are ill-suited to the focused business ambitions of Novartis.”

The decision is said to be in line with CEO Vas Narasimhan’s strategy to improve the company’s competitiveness.

Novartis intends to boost its footprint in a variety of therapeutic areas such as cell and gene therapies while working on recent AveXis acquisition for $8.7bn as well as the launch of cancer drug Kymriah.

The company further noted that some of the dropped research projects will be taken up by other firms and the remaining will be stopped or paused for a certain duration.

“The sadness about these 90 projects is many of them have momentum, but they either are not likely to be transformative for patients or are ill-suited to the focused business ambitions of Novartis.”

Bradner added: “Society should expect Novartis to bring forward truly impactful, truly differentiated, truly important medicines for patients with life-threatening diseases.”

Novartis already carried out multiple major layoffs and spinoffs this year. It divested its stake in the consumer healthcare joint venture to GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) for $13bn in June.

The company announced plans in July to spin-off its eyecare division Alcon into a separately traded standalone entity.

In September, Novartis entered an agreement to sell parts of its Sandoz US business to Aurobindo Pharma for nearly $1bn and revealed plans to layoff around 2,100 jobs in Switzerland and the UK.

Furthermore, the pharmaceutical giant agreed to out-license three anti-infective programmes to Boston Pharmaceuticals last month.

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