Minor league designation? The Five Pillars of Novartis do not include eye care

ByMartha R. Camara

Oct 14, 2022

October 14, 2022

2 minute read


White is an anterior segment surgeon and founder of SkyVision Centers in Westlake, Ohio.

Disclosures: White reports advice for Aldeyra, Avellino, Bausch + Lomb, Johnson & Johnson, Novartis, Orasis, Rendia, Santen, Sight Sciences, Sun, Tarsus and Trukera Medical; speaking for Novartis, Santen and Sun; and have a stake in Orasis.

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Wow. It’s been an interesting few weeks for the eye care industry, huh?

Allergan has laid off more than 200 people on the sell side, and now Novartis is sending pretty clear signals that it might lose interest. “Forward-going guidance” describes the five pillars of Novartis’ plan to become one of the top five companies in the US pharmaceutical market. To top it off, Novartis let go of its entire professional relations team on October 10.

Source: Interviews with Healio

Eye care is sent to minors.

Why is it? I think there’s still a lot of disappointment with Beovu’s disrupted launch. That was enough to blunt the news that Novartis secured Medicare Part D coverage for Xiidra. Xiidra appears to be on track for around $550 million in net sales (after rebates) this year. With access to the entire market, physicians can pit lifitegrast directly against cyclosporine in a home derby. The mere appearance of a win here could net Xiidra an additional $250-500 million net per year, in my estimation.

Now? A billion dollars is not enough. As if it were football, eye care was relegated to minors.

Novartis is essentially saying it will prioritize those “pillars” that house a multi-billion dollar drug or drugs. Let’s face it, Xiidra will never fit this bill. It’s hard to see Beovu having a chance. It’s really discouraging. First, Allergan sends a super negative signal after the problematic launch of Vuity. Now Novartis is downgrading.

And after? I was really hoping that Allergan and Novartis were going to be on the “buy” side of the ledger. You know, like the MLB franchises that look at where they sit at All-Star Break and decide to keep their stars on the team and go out there to get a superstar or two for the pennant race. Now? Man, I’d bet both would be happy to be ‘sellers’, but who’s there to be ‘buyers?’ Who has enough commitment to the eye care space and enough cash/credit to snag the wallets of Allergan or Novartis? Who can create the right combination of products? Is this Alcon’s chance to become, you know, Alcon?

I do not know. Novartis and Allergan have made terrible strides. I would hate to see either of them give up our space. All eyes are now on Bausch + Lomb and Alcon as we wait to see what’s next.


  • Novartis unveils new focused strategy, underpinned by eight potential multi-billion dollar sales brands and deep pipeline, at Meet the Management event. https://www.novartis.com/news/media-releases/novartis-unveils-new-focused-strategy-underpinned-eight-potential-multi-billion-dollar-peak-sales-brands-deep-pipeline-meet- event-management. Published September 22, 2022. Accessed October 12, 2022.