September 4, 2019 / 1:54 PM / 13 days ago

Novartis sees cell, gene therapy reaching up to 15% of sales in midterm

ZURICH, Sept 4 (Reuters) - Novartis sees cell and gene therapies accounting for up to 15% of its total revenue in the midterm from a much lower level at present, a Swiss newspaper reported on Wednesday, after the Swiss drugmaker held an event with German-language media on research and development.

Steven Moran, Novartis's global head of strategy, said expectations regarding cell and gene therapies should "not get carried away", the Neue Zuercher Zeitung reported.

Novartis confirmed Moran's comment, and said company representatives have indicated previously they project revenue from cell and gene therapies, as well as so-called radioligand therapy for diseases like cancer, making up 15-20% of revenue that last year totaled around $45 billion.

Novartis has made big investments in the $475,000-per-patient blood cancer therapy Kymriah, $850,000 in its blindness treatment Luxturna, and $2.1 million one-time gene therapy Zolgensma, which it bought with the $8.7 billion Avexis takeover in 2018.

Revenue from cell and gene therapies now represents a fraction of Novartis's annual sales. Kymriah's sales in 2018 were $76 million and $58 million in the second quarter. The Basel-based company has said it would release Zolgensma sales details after the third quarter.

Zolgensma won U.S. approval this year but is now the subject of a Food and Drug Administration investigation over alleged data manipulation. The U.S. Senate has also demanded information, while Novartis Chief Executive Vas Narasimhan has said his company has "exited" some Avexis scientists following an internal probe. (Reporting by John Miller, editing by John Revill)

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