Novartis CEO says the delays in physician visits associated to Covid are prone to affect most cancers prognosis charges

The health system is still seeing lower diagnoses for certain diseases after the coronavirus pandemic kept non-Covid patients out of hospital early, Novartis CEO Vasant Narasimhan told CNBC on Wednesday.

“I think the signals that were sent that ultimately told patients to stay away from the emergency room, stay away from hospitals, sent a very strong message to patients not to get the care they needed,” Narasimhan said on “Closing Bell”. “It may have been appropriate in the face of the public health emergency, but over time it creates a significant need for better treatments for these patients.”

Narasimhan, who joined Novartis in 2005, said that while trends are positive, there are still lower diagnoses in areas such as cardiovascular disease and oncology. For the latter, the diagnoses are still 30 to 40% lower than before Covid-19. Novartis makes cancer treatments.

According to a survey by the University of Michigan Institute for Healthcare Policy’s National Poll on Healthy Aging, nearly one in three Americans between the ages of 50 and 80 postponed a personal doctor visit in the past year due to concerns about Covid exposure and innovation. The survey, conducted in January, found that 24% of people with cancer and 30% of people with heart disease had delayed at least one in-person visit.

“Cancer patients who are later diagnosed tend to have poorer outcomes, similar to those with cardiovascular disease who are not getting the therapies they need,” Narasimhan said. “That in turn puts a strain on health systems over time.”

As Covid cases increase in the US and around the world due to the highly transmissible Delta variant, Narasimhan hopes that lessons have been learned from the early stages of the health crisis. “I think it is critical now that this time around we make sure that patients can maintain their care even during the pandemic for the months ahead,” he said.

“We remain optimistic that despite various waves of Covid, health systems have learned that we need to maintain supplies of noncommunicable diseases, other chronic diseases,” he added. a syndemia of these other diseases, so to speak. “

On Wednesday, Novartis exceeded analysts’ expectations for sales and earnings in the second quarter. Narasimhan said the Swiss drug maker saw a recovery in demand in many therapeutic areas, noting that the company saw sales growth of 9% and operating income growth of 13%.

Novartis is currently involved in the manufacture of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid vaccines and also assists CureVac in the manufacture of vaccines. Novartis also produces monoclonal antibodies to treat Covid for partner companies, “said Narasimhan.” We are doing a lot, but we are also ready to do more if necessary. “

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