With a series of reorganization initiatives, new leaders at the helm and exciting acquisitions, Novartis Oncology has undergone a significant business transformation in the past few years, and if the business unit’s 2019 performance is anything to go by, the efforts have paid off, with net sales reaching USD 14.4 billion, seven percent up from 2018. With the US market representing over a third of global sales, EVP and head of US Ameet Mallik highlighted a couple of elements central to the business’ longer-term strategy.
With change, you either lean into it and see it as an opportunity – disruption can be a time where you create that competitive advantage for the future – or you hunker down and hope it goes away
The first is technology platforms. Following the 2018 acquisitions of Advanced Accelerator Applications (AAA), a radiopharmaceutical company that develops, produces and commercializes molecular nuclear medicines, and Endocyte, a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing radioligand and CAR-T therapies for cancer treatment, Mallik posited, “we have solidified ourselves as the only company in the industry today able to lead cancer innovations across all four of the major treatment platforms: targeted therapy, differentiated immune therapies, cell and gene therapies, and RLT.”
As he explained, “this puts us in the unique position to not only tackle cancer within each of these therapeutic modalities but also through combinations across the platforms,” elaborating, “the reason we think our four-platform strategy is so important is that we want to have as many tools as we can in the toolbox to deal with cancer.” After all, he contextualized, “the word ‘cancer’ is really a misnomer because when you look at the genomic composition, cancer is really thousands of different diseases.” Looking ahead, he anticipated, “cancer treatment is moving into combination therapies so having four platforms gives us an edge here.”
As a result, he enthused, “our therapeutic and overall pipeline strategy has really come together over the past few years and now we are in a very exciting, highly differentiated position.”
The second is culture. Since Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan was appointed in February 2018, he has spearheaded a tremendous revamp of the organizational culture to become more ‘curious, inspired, and unbossed’. For Mallik, this meant that he had “a lot of empowerment and accountability to run the US oncology business”. He reflected, “[having] been with Novartis for over 15 years now, working with different CEOs, what is striking is that we have a lot more autonomy now than we did before.”
Last but not least, Mallik flagged digital transformation, pointing out that “even before COVID-19, the pharmaceuticals business model was already starting to shift. We were already on a digital journey and as I look towards the future, that pace of change is only accelerating.” For instance, he revealed, “we have increased digital spend in the US more than three-fold in the last two years,” postulating that “we are shifting to an omni-channel engagement model [where] it is about how we engage, personally and digitally, with healthcare practitioners in a much more personalized, coordinated and meaningful manner.”
Despite these turbulent times, he held a positive outlook: “With change, you either lean into it and see it as an opportunity – disruption can be a time where you create that competitive advantage for the future – or you hunker down and hope it goes away. We choose the former option: we want to create a more transformative and positive impact for patients and physicians on their journeys.”