Novartis has spent $15B to reinvent itself

In the last year, Swiss pharma giant Novartis has spent nearly $15 billion on acquisitions that are pivoting the company toward treatments that bear little resemblance to traditional drugs, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The deals by Novartis expand the drugmaker's presence in gene therapy and radiopharmaceuticals, two cutting-edge fields of medicine.

Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan, MD, has long said he plans to refocus the company on innovative therapies that will drive future growth.

While the treatments have shown a lot of potential, they also pose challenges. For example, questions have swirled about how gene therapies should be priced as they may offer one-time cures for diseases. Radiopharmaceuticals, on the other hand, are also challenging because there is a short half-life on the radioactive component.

While the risks are higher betting on these cutting-edge treatments than with conventional drugs, Dr. Narasimhan said that "there's a risk in not pushing into new technologies and new areas of science to find breakthrough medicines," according to the WSJ.

In the past year Novartis paid $3.9 billion for Advanced Accelerator applications, which makes radiopharmaceutical treatments for pancreatic cancer; $2.1 billion for radiopharmaceutical specialist Endocyte, which targets prostate cancer; and $8.7 billion for AveXis, which is developing a gene therapy to target fatal infant muscle-wasting disease.

Read the full report here.

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