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Novartis uses data to combat health disparities; Boston Scientific's Baylis deal

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Novartis uses data to combat health disparities; Boston Scientific's Baylis deal

Lutz Hegemann, Novartis AG's group head of corporate affairs and global health, spoke to S&P Global Market Intelligence about the Basel, Switzerland-based pharmaceutical company's environmental, social and governance targets ahead of its eighth annual investor day.

SNL ImageLutz Hegemann, Novartis group head of corporate affairs and global health
Source: Novartis AG

With racial disparities in health leading to an estimated $93 billion in excess medical care costs and $42 billion in lost productivity globally, this issue remains the cornerstone of the company's efforts. Novartis has reached 29 million patients to date this year via its access to medicines program, and in July the company announced a 10-year commitment with historically Black colleges and universities to address the causes of U.S. healthcare disparities.

"It's fair to say that very early on we took [ESG] very seriously. It's also linked to the nature of our business because pharmaceutical business[es] inherently have a very strong social component," Hegemann said.

"Society expects us to develop safe and effective medicines that we make available to as many patients as possible, and to run our business ethically. We are constantly trying to push the boundaries here to be a step ahead."

Novartis harnesses data to combat health disparities in US, low-income countries

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Baylis deal poised to grow Boston Scientific's cardiology market share by $1.5B

Boston Scientific Corp.'s $1.75 billion acquisition of Canadian cardiology-device maker Baylis Medical Company Inc. is expected to grow the medical technology giant's heart-related market share by $1.5 billion over three years.

Boston Scientific's electrophysiology and structural heart devices — which include the Farapulse and PolarX systems for correcting abnormal heart rhythms, the Watchman implant to prevent blood clots, and heart valve repair device Millipede — account for an $8 billion addressable market, the company said in an Oct. 6 presentation.

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Merck & Co.'s largest buy since 2009 set to diversify past blockbuster Keytruda

SNL Image

Merck CEO Robert Davis
Source: Merck & Co.

Merck & Co. Inc.'s $11 billion acquisition of Acceleron Pharma Inc. marks the U.S. pharmaceutical giant's largest purchase in more than a decade and gives the company a chance to diversify beyond its blockbuster cancer drug Keytruda, analysts said.

Merck gained Keytruda in the 2009 acquisition of Schering-Plough Corp. for $41 billion, and the drug accounted for 37% of the company's worldwide sales in the second quarter of 2021. Despite the success of the drug, first approved in the U.S. in 2014, analysts have previously identified Merck's dependence on Keytruda as a potential weak spot when competition eventually enters the market.

AstraZeneca's bet on rare disease with Alexion acquisition yields early win

AstraZeneca PLC's $39 billion venture into rare conditions yielded an early win for the U.K.'s largest drugmaker when an experimental pill for Wilson's disease hit its target in a late-stage study, paving the way for regulatory approval.

Best known for its cancer franchise — notably blockbuster drugs Lynparza, Tagrisso and Imfinzi, which are all set to lose patent exclusivity by the end of the decade — Cambridge, England-based AstraZeneca acquired Alexion, a Boston-based rare disease company, in December 2020. Among the pipeline of 11 molecules that it gained was the potential Wilson's disease therapy ALXN1840, one of the company's more advanced assets.

In other news

DentaQuest deal to scale Sun Life US business, spur price competitiveness – exec

Sun Life Financial Inc.'s planned acquisition of dental benefits provider DentaQuest will help scale up the insurer's U.S. business and allow it to be more aggressive on pricing, according to a top executive.

Speaking on a conference call to discuss the US$2.48 billion deal, Sun Life Financial U.S. President Daniel Fishbein said the company was looking for revenue synergies from the DentaQuest deal in two main areas: commercial dental and the white-label business for regional and national health plans.

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