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Novartis Appoints New Pharma Unit Head, Gives Other Updates

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Swiss pharma giant Novartis (NVS - Free Report) announced that Marie-France Tschudin has been appointed president of the Pharmaceuticals business unit. The appointment comes as Paul Hudson, who was heading the unit so far, is leaving the company and joining Sanofi (SNY - Free Report) . Marie-France is currently the president of Advanced Accelerator Applications (AAA), a Novartis company,

Marie-France joined the company in January 2017 and was working with biotech major Celgene Corporation (CELG - Free Report) in a variety of positions earlier.

The change in leadership comes at a crucial time for Novartis, when it is looking to streamline its business and focus on legacy drug business, going forward.

Earlier, AAA announced that the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has adopted a positive opinion recommending marketing authorization of LysaKare 25g/25g solution for reduction of renal (kidney) radiation exposure in adults during peptide-receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT) with Lutathera, the first PRRT ever approved by the European Commission. The European Commission will review the CHMP opinion and is expected to deliver its final decision within three months.

Lutathera was approved in September 2017 for the treatment of unresectable or metastatic, progressive, well differentiated (G1 and G2), somatostatin receptor positive gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (GEP-NETs) in adults.  

Novartis also announced new early stage histology data in kidney transplantation on pipeline candidate, iscalimab, at the American Transplant Congress (ATC).

Data show that 60% of iscalimab-treated transplant patients have normal kidney histology at least 1 year after transplant vs 0% with tacrolimus. The findings, although in a limited number of patients, are to be confirmed in an ongoing phase IIb trial.

Novartis’ share price has increased 2.2% in a year compared with the industry's 0.6% growth.

The company has restructured the business to focus on becoming a core drug-focused company, powered by data and digital technologies, given the challenging business conditions. The generic division, Sandoz, continues to face pricing pressure in the United States.

Zacks Rank & Stock to Consider

Novartis currently carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell).

A better-ranked stock in the large-cap pharma space is Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (BMY - Free Report) , which sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Bristol-Myers’ earnings per share estimates have increased from $4.78 to $5.03 for 2020 in the past 60 days.

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