Novartis AG (NVS)  

​Novartis Drug Shows Marked Improvement in Disability Risk

Rebecca McClay | FlashRatings | Saturday, September 17, 2016 3:03 PM EDT
Novartis AG (NVS) says its investigational multiple sclerosis drug reduces the risk of disability, effectively slowing the progression of the disease, according to an analysis of a late-stage trial. 

The study revealed that Novartis’ drug, BAF312 for patients with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS), cut the risk of three-month disability progression by 21 percent compared with a placebo. The disability risk was reduced even further after six months, Novartis said.

Analysts had not yet responded directly to the announcement as of Sept. 17. “There are very few available treatment options to delay disease progression in SPMS, and there is a high unmet need for effective therapies with an acceptable safety profile for people with the condition,” said Vasant Narasimhan, Global Head Drug Development and Chief Medical Officer for Novartis in a Sept. 17 statement. “These data are a positive stride forward in an unserved disease area, and we look forward to evaluating next steps with health authorities.”

In the past 30 days, one analyst firm, Argus, issued a ratings report on Novartis. Argus maintained a “hold” rating, citing the company’s plans to launch more new drugs in coronary disease and oncology.
“Over the next several years, we expect the company to launch several new drugs in such critical areas as coronary disease and oncology,” Argus analysts wrote in an Aug. 24 note. “If Novartis restores growth at Alcon sooner than we expect or the share price drops back to the mid-$70s for non-fundamental reasons, we would consider an upgrade.”

Of the 11 analysts that have reported on Novartis in the past year, only 27% were positive. The median price target is $92, which represents a 15% upside from recent trading.