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Novartis CEO says diabetics’ contact lens tests to start in 2016 -paper

Novartis CEO says diabetics’ contact lens tests to start in 2016 -paper

ZURICH, Sept 5 – Novartis Chief Executive, Joe Jimenez, told a Swiss newspaper that the first human tests of a contact lens it is developing with Google for diabetic patients will be conducted in 2016.

“This project is progressing well,” Jimenez told Swiss newspaper Le Temps in an interview published on Saturday.

Starting in 2014, Novartis, maker of cancer drugs including Glivec, and Google announced a cooperation to develop “smart” contact lenses to help diabetics track their blood glucose levels or restore the eye’s ability to focus.

“I had said it would take about five years to see a product on the market,” Jimenez told the paper. “The calendar is light and we are already developing a technological lens prototype (that) should be tested on humans in 2016.”

He also discussed Novartis’ efforts to test a novel pay-for-performance pricing model with some customers for its new heart failure drug Entresto.

Earlier this year, Novartis said it was pursuing a system under which customers would get the drug at a discount but then pay Novartis more if it cut the need for costly hospital visits.

Jimenez indicated the plan has encountered headwinds.

“In the United States, we proposed to insurers a differentiated price calculated according to length of stay,” Jimenez said. “Few insurers entered in the field. They told us that the system was too complicated.”

Novartis finally established the price at around $4,500 per year, he said.

The CEO, a former executive at Reddiwip-maker ConAgra Foods who joined Novartis in 2007, also said the company expects its generics business Sandoz “will always be large enough to be competitive worldwide” without joining a consolidation trend that’s seen companies including Allergan unload businesses.

Israel’s Teva agreed to buy Allergan’s generics unit in July for more than $40 billion.

“There is no project on our side to participate in this consolidation trend because we cannot ensure this growth,” Jimenez said.

Novartis, which owns more than 30 percent of pharmaceuticals rival Roche, has trade agreements with Roche on two drugs and Jimenez said he can imagine research and development collaborations, as well.

“But the opportunity hasn’t presented itself yet,” he said.

A Novartis spokesman did not return a phone call Saturday seeking comment. (Reporting by John Miller; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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