Novartis Works on Oral Treatment for Various Types of Coronavirus, Says CEO

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Dec 6 (Reuters) – Novartis hopes to continue to play an important role in developing treatments for COVID-19 with research underway for a pill that could work widely against coronaviruses, not just the one that causes COVID-19, he told Reuters executive director Vas Narasimhan.

In an interview, the head of the Swiss pharmaceutical company pointed to Novartis’ support for the manufacture of vaccines for COVID-19 and drug producers when asked if the company had been on the sidelines during the pandemic.

“I would have loved if some of our own clinical trials would have worked, but they didn’t. I mean, that’s part of the business,” Narasimhan said.

“I think we as an industry have collaborated to ultimately be the industry that allowed this pandemic to finally come under control over time.”

Many drug makers, including AstraZeneca, sold treatments at cost during the pandemic, but are now looking to start making a profit as some parts of the world return to normal.

“I think that for companies to invest long-term in pandemic preparedness, there has to be a reasonable financial return,” Narasimhan said. “I think that should be clear and understood by everyone involved.”

Novartis last year signed an agreement with Molecular Partners to develop two DARPin-based therapies as potential treatments for COVID-19. A new reading of the studies for one of those treatments is expected in January, and companies will decide next steps in the coming months based on that data, Narasimhan said.

(Report of Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru. Edited in Spanish by Javier Leira)

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