Big Pharma Strategies and Growth Initiatives: What’s In Store for 2023

At the J.P. Morgan Annual Healthcare Conference in San Francisco this week, bio/pharma industry executives highlighted their companies’ strategies and key growth initiatives.

At the J.P. Morgan Annual Healthcare Conference in San Francisco this week, bio/pharma industry executives highlighted their companies’ strategies and key growth initiatives.

Executives outline company growth strategies
Highlights from some of the large bio/pharmaceutical companies presenting at the J.P. Morgan Annual Healthcare Conference this week (January 9 to 12, 2023) are below.

Pfizer. Pfizer’s Chairman and CEO, Albert Bourla, put forth an ambitious growth strategy for the company, outlining targets of reaching non-COVID-19 product revenues by 2030 of $84 billion in a best-case scenario, representing compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10% between 2025 and 2030 and in $70 billion in a lower  case scenario, representing a CAGR of 6% between 2025 and 2030. This target (dependent on clinical progression and regulatory approvals), which would generate revenues by 2030 of approximately $20 billion in non-COVID new product launches, $25 billion in revenues from business development/external collaborations, and the balance in revenues from additional products in the company’s portfolio. To achieve that goal, the company is planning 18 potential new non-COVID product launches, new indications for existing products, and five products in which the company has already began co-promotion and commercialization through external collaboration  This includes six new product launches in 2023 and one in 2024. New product launches targeted in 2023 include: elranatamab for treating multiple myeloma; ritlecitinib for treating alopecia areata (hair loss); two product launches against respiratory syncytial virus, one for individuals over 60 years of age and one for infants via maternal immunization; a pentavalent meningococcal vaccine; and a biosimilar of AbbVie’s Humira (adalimumab), a drug for treating arthritis, plaque psoriasis, ankylosing spondylitis, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis. A key product launch in 2024 would be a mRNA influenza vaccine. Those revenue targets would offset approximately $17 billion in potential revenue decline from 2025-2030 due to a loss of exclusivity and increased generic-drug incursion.

Novartis. Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan outlined the company’s strategy of being a “pure-play” innovator drug company focused on five core therapeutic areas with nine potential multi-billion drugs in play. The company’s strategy of being a pure-play innovator drug company follows its decision in 2022 to spin off Sandoz, its generic and biosimilar business, into a stand-alone publicly traded company, a move expected to be completed in the second half of 2023.

Novartis is focusing on five therapeutic areas in its innovator medicines business: cardiovascular, immunology, neuroscience, solid tumors, and hematology. It sees these areas as the ones with the greatest growth potential as evidenced by breakdown of annualized 2022 sales (based on third quarter 2022): cardiovascular ($4.7 billion), immunology ($7.5 billion), neuroscience ($5.0 billion), solid tumors ($5.0 billion) and hematology ($6.5 billion). On a commercial level, the company is emphasizing four main geographic markets: the US, German, Japan, and China.

Narasimham says the company is targeting nine multi-billion brands as key revenue generators and also reflects the company’s strategy for diversified modalities. Six of these product already have combined annual revenues of $13.2 billion. These six products are: Cosentyx (secukinumab), a biologic for treating psoriasis, ankylosing spondylitis, and psoriatic arthritis; Entresto (sacubitril/valsartan), a small-molecule drug to treat heart failure; Zolgensma (onasemnogene abeparvovec), a gene therapy to treat a rare neuromuscular disease, spinal muscular atrophy; Kisqali (ribociclib), a small-molecule drug to treat certain types of breast cancer; Kesimpta (ofatumumab), a biologic for treating relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis; and Leqvio (inclisiran), a chemically synthesized siRNA therapy to reduce low-density lipoprotein cholesterol

He also points to three additional key products, two marketed products and one-late stage drug candidate. The two marketed products, approved in 2021, include Pluvicto (lutetium Lu 177 vipivotide tetraxetan), a radioligand for treating prostate cancer, and Scemblix (asciminib), a small-molecule drug for treating chronic myeloid leukemia. The other product is iptacopan, a late-stage drug candidate for treating a rare blood disorder, paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria. Other key pipeline drugs with strong multi-billion potential are: remibrutinib, being evaluated for several immune-related conditions; ianalumab,  an immunology drug candidate for several indications; and pelacarsen, a cardiovascular drug for treating elevated lipoproteins levels

Narasimhan said the company’s growth strategy further reflects a shift toward biologics and advanced technology platforms. In addition to two established platforms in chemistry and biotherapeutics, three newer platforms—gene & cell therapies, radioligand therapies, and “xRNA” (siRNA and new approaches in RNA)—are being prioritized by Novartis for continued investment. The company has over 50 projects in exploratory to early clinical development in these new platforms. It breaks down as follows: 18 projects in gene therapies, with its next filing expected in 2025; 13 in cell therapies, with it next filing in 2027; 8 projects in radioligand therapies, wits its next filing this year (2023), and 13 projects in xRNA areas, with the next filing expected in 2025.

AbbVie. For AbbVie, the key issue for 2023 is dealing with loss of exclusivity and generic competition for its top-selling product, Humira (adalimumab), a drug for treating arthritis, plaque psoriasis, ankylosing spondylitis, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis, with 2021 revenues of $20.7 billion, representing 37% of AbbVie’s revenues. AbbVie’s Chairman and CEO Rick Gonzalez says the company expects to return to strong top-line growth in 2025, with high-single digit CAGR through the remainder of decade. Key to its growth prospects will be continued growth for Skyrizi (risankizumab) and Rinvoq (upadacitinib), two next-generation products for similar indications as Humira. The company expects combined risk-adjusted 2025 global sales of more than $17.5 billion for Skyrizi and Rinvoq and for combined peak sales for Skyrizi and Rinvoq to exceed Humira peak revenue ( more than $21 billion) in 2027. The company also plans continued product diversification in its key therapeutic areas: immunology, oncology, neuroscience, aesthetics, and eye care.

Merck & Co. Key for near-term growth prospects for Merck & Co. will be positioning for loss of US market exclusivity in 2028 for its top-selling product, Keytruda (pembrolizumab), an immunotherapy for treating multiple cancers with 2021 revenues of $17.2 billion. Rob Davis, Chairman and CEO, Merck, emphasized key developments in its pipeline, including external collaborations, which have totaled $36.5 billion in deals over the last five years. The compang is targeting several therapeutic areas to drive growth: cardiometabolic, vaccines, neuroscience, and infectious disease/immunology. The company projects the potential for more than $10 billion from its cardiovascular pipeline in the mid-2030s time frame and for more than $10 billion from new mechanisms in oncology in the mid-2030s time frame.

Sanofi. Sanofi’s CEO, Paul Hudson, highlighted the company’s product momentum in 2023, which is projected to see two new products launches: Altuviiio (efanesoctocog alfa) for treating hemophilia A and Beyfortus (nirsevimab) for preventing RSV in infants, which is being jointly developed with AstraZeneca. Additionally the company expects to have two pivotal clinical readouts in 2023. One important readout is to support an additional indication for chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder for Dupixent (dupilumab), the company’s top-selling drug with 2021 revenues of EUR 5.25 billion ($5.70 billion). The drug is already approved to treat certain types of asthma, eczema, chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyposis, eosinophilic esophagitis (an allergic condition in the esophagus),  eye and eyelid inflammation. Second important readout is for tolebrutinib, a late-stage drug candidate for treating multiple sclerosis. The company also expects 27 readouts in its early-to-mid stage pipeline in product candidates spanning immunology, oncology, neurology, and vaccines.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). Following the spin-off of its consumer healthcare business to form an independent standalone company, Haleon, GSK is targeting growth in its bio/pharmaceuticals and vaccines business. CEO Emma Walmsley stressed the company’s focus in four main therapeutic areas: immunology/respiratory, oncology, infectious disease, and HIV. Infectious disease and HIV account for more than 50% of the company’s revenues and two thirds of its development portfolio. In the last 12 months (trailing revenues through September 2022), products from these areas accounted for combined sales of more than £13 billion ($15.6 billion). It posted growth in its vaccines  business of 20% (ex-pandemic) and in HIV (+9%) in the first nine months of 2022, with both areas continuing to be an area of product growth. Overall, the company is estimating overall revenue growth of more than 5% through 2026 and has a pipeline of 23 vaccines and 42 medicines.

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