W Power 2024

Inside Vasant 'Vas' Narasimhan's transformation of Novartis, and more

On the Forbes India cover this fortnight is a man who embarked on a journey of transformation .soon after taking charge of the Switzerland-headquartered Novartis in 2018. Over the past seven years, Vasant 'Vas' Narasimhan has led its transformation into a focussed medicines company rebuilt on the bedrock of R&D and innovation

Brian Carvalho
Published: Apr 12, 2024 11:15:46 AM IST
Updated: Apr 12, 2024 04:50:27 PM IST

Inside Vasant 'Vas' Narasimhan's transformation of Novartis, and more

 
A common criticism of Big Pharma is they’re not innovative enough—unable to discover enough of new medicines for some of humanity’s biggest killer diseases. The large global drug makers contend that they pump billions of dollars into new medicine development—and use those numbers to justify the prices of prescription drugs. Ergo, lowering prices will eat into revenues, which will compromise drug innovation.

That argument didn’t wash well with sections of investors; as well as consumers, particularly those in the United States, who feel the high prices they pay are fattening Big Pharma bottom lines. The innovation wasn’t enough, particularly when studies revealed that much of the development of discovery of drugs that hit the market didn’t originate in Big Pharma labs but in universities and academic centres.  

Perhaps that was the cue to sharpen focus on pure-play innovation, and build robust prescription pharma pipelines and portfolios. Allied businesses with different cost structures and operating models like consumer wellness, generics and animal health care had to make way for focussed investments on research & development, acquisitions of smaller and nimbler biotech and biopharma players, and collaborations with like-minded drug makers.

On the Forbes India cover this fortnight is a man who embarked on this journey soon after taking charge of the Switzerland-headquartered Novartis in 2018. Over the past seven years, Vasant ‘Vas’ Narasimhan has led the transformation of Novartis into a focussed medicines company rebuilt on the bedrock of R&D and innovation. The 47-year-old CEO, who was in Hyderabad last fortnight—Novartis’s largest hub outside its headquarters in Switzerland—met up with Manu Balachandran and explained how, and why, the drug giant with diversified interests pivoted into a pure-play innovative medicines company.

“Sector-wide, there’s been a recognition that it’s difficult to allocate capital efficiently across different segments of health care and fully invest in the R&D opportunity within innovative medicines,” Narasimhan tells Balachandran. For more on Novartis’s gameplan to innovate for the world with India playing a critical role, go to ‘Innovating For the World, From India’.

Another must read in this edition is the bouquet on opportunities for education, primarily overseas. The May to September period is high season for study-abroad aspirants, although the planning begins way before that—in some cases, as you will find out, when the hopeful is still in high school.

If you or a friend or a family member is considering enrolling in a foreign university, check out Forbes India’s comprehensive reckoner. Samidha Jain identifies the popular as well as lesser-known emerging destinations for a foreign degree or diploma. If you’ve fixed the destination, that’s just the beginning. Dive into Anubhuti Matta’s comprehensive guide from financial planning and visa processes to cultural nuances that you should be aware of.

For many students and their families, studying abroad has been a gateway to citizenship. That may be changing, as economic prospects in India outshine much of the developed world. More, employment isn’t quite a breeze in these necks of the woods, Naini Thaker finds out as she takes a walk on the dark side of an overseas education.

Finally, what do you get when a big exam and Gen AI come together? Say hello to the ‘revision bot’. To know how that works, don’t miss Pankti Mehta Kadakia’s ‘The Bot In the Classroom’.

 

Best,
Brian Carvalho
Editor, Forbes India
Email: Brian.Carvalho@nw18.com
Twitter ID: @Brianc_Ed

(This story appears in the 19 April, 2024 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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