October 24, 2017 / 9:33 AM / a year ago

Novartis CEO: Rituxan copy beat expectations after Europe launch

ZURICH, Oct 24 (Reuters) - Novartis’s European launch of a copy of Roche’s $7 billion-per-year Rituxan was better than expected, Chief Executive Joe Jimenez said on Tuesday as his generic and cancer sales forces combined to win business from their Swiss rival.

“We’re seeing some of the customers switching whole patient populations over. The reaction is a bit more robust than what we had expected,” Jimenez said in an interview after his company released third-quarter earnings.

Without giving specifics, Jimenez said Novartis’s Rixathon is selling for a discount of “a little more” than 15 percent to Rituxan. Last week, Roche said third-quarter European sales of its drug against blood cancer and rheumatoid arthritis slipped 16 percent as biosimilar versions from Novartis and Celltrion made inroads. (Reporting by John Miller; Editing by Michael Shields)

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