Oncology Companies, Part 1

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Novartis Oncology: Overview

Novartis' commercial functions oncology team consists of 4 primary divisions. These employees are categorized by job function as well as geographic region. The functional organization of the company is similarly divided into distinct departments. Each unit is responsible for different commercial functions. Although budget information was unavailable, we were able to find financial data that indicates a favorable growth trajectory. Finally, we've listed the most relevant organizational changes that will have a significant impact on the company's oncology division.

Full-time Employee Breakdown

  • The total number of global employees, excluding the R&D department, is 83,738.
  • Novartis headquarters in Basel, Switzerland employs a total of 13,000 people, 11,440 of which are full-time employees.
  • The Novartis Oncology team includes 3,369 employees. Susanne Schaffert is president of the Oncology department.
  • Novartis categorizes full-time employees according to their geographic location and job function. These 5 categories include Marketing and Sales, General and Administration, Novartis Business Services, Production and Supply, and Research and Development (R&D).
  • The total number of Marketing and Sales employees worldwide is 42,606. Of these, 5,360 are located in the US, 3,396 in Canada and Latin America, 16,395 in Europe, and 17,455 in Africa, Asia, and Australasia.
  • The General and Administration department employs a total of 4,852 people globally. Of these, 763 are located in the US, 397 in Canada and Latin America, 2,666 in Europe, and 1,026 in Africa, Asia, and Australasia.
  • The Novartis Business Services team includes 10,063 employees. Of these, 614 are located in the US, 864 in Canada and Latin America, 4,352 in Europe, and 4,233 in Africa, Asia, and Australasia.
  • The Production and Supply department employs 26,217 individuals. Of these, 2,830 are located in the US, 838 in Canada and Latin America, 19,386 in Europe, and 3,163 in Africa, Asia, and Australasia.

Functional Organization

  • Functional organizations within the company include Novartis Technical Operations, Novartis Business Services, and Corporate functions.
  • Novartis Technical Operations drives business growth through ongoing optimization of the manufacturing process. The department strives to improve operations by allocating resources effectively.
  • Novartis Business Services provides worldwide support services to the company. This segment drives productivity by standardizing processes, controlling quality, and making services more straightforward.
  • Corporate functions include the Human Resource, finance, communication, and legal departments.

Financial Highlights

  • Net sales for the company's oncology business unit grew 10% in 2019.
  • Net sales in 2019 were $47.4 billion.
  • Operating income in 2019 was $9.1 billion, and core operating income was $14.1 billion.
  • Free cash flow was $12.9 billion. This 15% growth was driven by higher operating income.
  • Continued sales growth is expected in 2020.

Recent Changes to Organizational Structure

  • In 2018, an additional $534 million were made to reorganize the Innovative Medicines Division’s Oncology department. The goal of this reorganization was to improve operational efficiency and streamline processes.
  • AI-based marketing is enabling the Oncology division to optimize brand spending.
  • Novartis plans to invest in advanced data and analytic capabilities, thereby transitioning to a value-based commercial model. This model would provide a flexible pricing approach where customers only pay if products meet performance standards.

Research Strategy

First, we searched company annual reports and investor information to find the number of full-time employees and a breakdown of their job functions. An internal report from the headquarters in Switzerland revealed that 12% of the 13,000 employees work part-time. Assuming that the other 88% of employees work full-time, we calculated the number of full-time employees to be 11,440.

There was no publicly available breakdown of how many headquarter employees perform commercial functions compared to R&D functions. However, continued searching revealed the total number of Novartis employees working in the Oncology business unit, as well as their contact data. The company's annual report listed global employee numbers according to 4 different non-R&D categories.

The company website and reports indicated that job functions were divided into 4 main categories. However, the reports didn't describe any subdivisions within these categories. Further information about the Marketing and Sales division were not available. One reason could be that Novartis does not make this information public.

Financial reports didn't provide a breakdown of the budget in general or according to department. However, we did find financial information highlighting sales and operating expense data. Finally, we searched corporate news to find changes to the organizational structure.

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Novartis Oncology: Sales & Marketing

The sales and marketing efforts at Novartis Oncology differ for launch brands and inline brands in terms of the type of advertising used as well as the frequency of advertising. The type of advertising used for launch brands is more varied which includes advertisements on national television, social media, digital, print and in-office materials while the type of advertising used for inline brands is mainly press releases. Also, the frequency of advertising for launch brands is higher compared to that of the inline brands.

Sales and marketing efforts for "launch brands"

  • Mayzent and Piqray are two of the launch brands of Novartis Oncology. They were both launched in 2019. Mayzent got its US FDA approval last March 2019 while Piqray was US FDA-approved in May 2019.
  • Mayzent received its European marketing authorization last month, January 2020. This marketing authorization is valid throughout the European Union.
  • The type of advertising used for Mayzent currently involves press releases in media sites such as Nasdaq, MedSpace, FiercePharma, and Endpoints News.
  • Based on the Novartis company news archive, there are media releases for Mayzent almost every month, once each month in the past year.
  • Piqray was advertised through a national television advertisement as well as through social media, digital, print and in-office materials. Piqray is now the latest cancer drug that was advertised through national television.
  • There are also press releases for Piqray in media sites such as FiercePharma, PharmaTimes, and PR Newswire.

Sales and marketing efforts for "inline brands"

Summary of the differences in marketing efforts

  • The type of advertising used for launch brands includes press releases, advertisements on national television, social media, digital, print, in-office materials. While the type of advertising used for inline brands is mainly press releases.
  • Based on the company media archive, the press releases for the launch brands have a higher frequency as compared to that of the inline brands.

Research Strategy

To have a general idea of the sales and marketing efforts of Novartis Oncology, we examined the official website of the company. Searching through the company reports and media archives did not reveal any explicit data about their marketing efforts except that there are available media releases for each product brand. Market research sites and news sites also don't have any data on Novartis Oncology's launch brands or inline brands in general. Thus, we thought of just examining the company's marketing efforts for a specific product. We chose two specific products that were recently launched and two specific products that are inline. Press releases and media articles were then browsed through for each of these brands to acquire data on how the products are advertised. We then synthesized the differences that were observed.

From Part 01
  • "Novartis Oncology employs 3,369 employees. The Novartis Oncology management team includes Susanne Schaffert (President), Antonio Nakasato (Medical Director - Tafinlar and Mekinist (Melanoma)), and Dajana Cesic (Executive Medical Director Oncology). "
  • "Under the leadership of Vasant Narasimhan, the Executive Committee of Novartis (ECN) is responsible for overseeing the business operations of Group companies. ECN members are chosen by the Board of Directors."
  • "Switzerland is one of the most important research, pro-duction and distribution hubs of Novartis. The 13,000 or so employees who work here"
  • "Novartis delivered an exceptional 2019. Strong sales growth drove double digit increases in core operating income and free cash flow."
  • "Net sales: expected to grow mid to high-single digit"
From Part 02