Note: All changes are versus the prior-year period unless otherwise stated
"Novartis continues to deliver solid performance with double-digit increases in core operating income and expanding margins, despite the impact of COVID-19 on healthcare systems," remarked CEO Vas Narasimhan, adding "our key growth drivers and launches are performing well."
The company said that during the third quarter "overall market conditions have been recovering, though COVID-19 continues to weigh on certain therapeutic areas, most notably in dermatology, ophthalmology and the Sandoz retail business." Narasimhan noted "healthcare systems have realised the impact the pandemic had...broadly on non-communicable diseases and overall preventative measures and screening measures. There's a strong desire not to repeat that."
Novartis added that net income in the quarter fell mainly as a result of legal provisions, including a recent fine from the French competition authority related to marketing of Lucentis. Narasimhan said Tuesday that the company will appeal the decision.
Novartis still expects sales this year to grow in the mid-single digits on a constant-currency basis. The company added that core operating income is now forecast to grow in the low-double digits to mid-teens, lifted from a prior estimate of growth in the low-double digits.
According to Novartis, the guidance assumes that there is "a continuation of the return to normal global healthcare systems, including prescription dynamics, particularly ophthalmology," in the fourth quarter. The drugmaker noted that the forecast also assumes that no generic versions of Gilenya or Sandostatin LAR are launched in the US this year.
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