* Working on cancer, heart, respiratory treatments
* To file serelaxin for EU, US approval in early 2013
* Shares up 1.3 pct
(Adds further details, analyst's comment)
By Caroline Copley
ZURICH, Nov 8 Novartis could produce
14 or more new big-selling 'blockbuster' drugs within five
years as it bets on cancer, heart and respiratory treatments to
fill the gaps left by expiries on current patents, the Swiss
firm said on Thursday.
Like many of its rivals, Novartis is facing headwinds as
some of its top earners lose patent protection, particularly
blood pressure drug Diovan. It is counting on its newest
products, such as breast cancer drug Afinitor, to pump up sales.
But some analysts caution that recently launched drugs like
multiple sclerosis pill Gilenya and eye medicine Lucentis will
face growing competition next year as Biogen Idec and
Regeneron bring rival products to market.
Novartis currently has 139 projects in clinical development
including more than 73 new molecular entities spread across a
wide area of diseases, it said in a statement published ahead of
an investor event in Boston on Thursday.
Among its most promising products are serelaxin and LCZ686
to treat patients with heart failure as well as drugs for
psoriasis and multiple sclerosis. It plans to file serelaxin for
regulatory approval in the U.S and Europe in early 2013.
However, the results of a late-stage study for serelaxin
published on Tuesday were mixed and some analysts think Novartis
may need further trials to guarantee its commercial success.
Chief Executive Joseph Jimenez did not rule out further
trials but said in a conference call with reporters it would
press ahead with filings using the current data.
Novartis's shares were 1.3 percent higher at 57.30 francs by
1315 GMT, when the Stoxx 600 Europe healthcare sector index
was up 0.2 percent.
"Novartis does have a very productive research engine.
However we will include significant value once we see convincing
data," said Andrew Weiss, an analyst at Vontobel.
Novartis said its pharmaceuticals division aimed to file
nine products for approval over the next 12 months. It expects
the unit - which is responsible for more than half of sales - to
return to growth from the second half of next year.
Novartis was also confident about its oncology pipeline,
which it expects to contribute more than $1 billion in sales by
2017, while it said recently launched Afinitor could have sales
of $2 billion in advanced breast cancer by 2017.
It is also hoping to convince doctors that they should
switch patients onto Tasigna when one of its best-selling drugs
Glivec loses patent exclusivity in 2015.
Novartis plans to initiate further trials in 2013 to prove
that patients with chronic myeloid leukaemia who have taken
Tasigna may be able to stop treatment once their cancer is under
The company also said it planned to manage more projects but
keep a lid on costs by cutting recruitment time and spending on
trials. Measures include giving handheld devices to doctors to
record trial data and to get pharmacy chains to undertake some
of the simpler trial work.
(Editing by Greg Mahlich)