For all of 2018, Novartis booked net profit of $12.6 billion, up 64 percent as it made gains on the sale of an over-the-counter medicines joint venture to GlaxoSmithKline to focus on newer, costly drugs including gene therapy and nuclear medicine targeting cancer.
Full-year sales rose 5 percent to $51.9 billion.
When asked whether Novartis would consider raising prices in the U.S. over the coming months, Narasimhan replied: “We are in a situation where we do take limited price increases where we think it is defendable and appropriate, but most of those price increases fall back into rebates.”
“And I think what we need to look at now is how do we enable those rebates to reduce patient out-of-pocket costs in the system,” he added.
Novartis, a Swiss drugmaker that boasts a $216 billion market cap, has been reworking its portfolio in recent months, selling off non-core assets like its generic drug segment and spinning off its soon-to-be former subsidiary Alcon, a catch-all eye-care business.
The pharmaceutical giant has also made two key acquisitions related to cancer treatment: a $3.9 billion deal for French radiopharmaceutical specialist Advanced Accelerator Applications in 2017 and its $2.1 billion purchase of U.S.-based biopharmaceutical Endocyte last year.
“We will continue to look at bolt-on acquisitions in every one of these areas over the coming years,” Narasimhan said.
—Reuters contributed to this article.
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