Novartis taking new approach to cancer — stopping it before it starts

Jan. 23, 2019

Bucking an industry trend to search for a cancer cure, Novartis is exploring ways to prevent the disease from developing at all. 

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland this week, the pharma giant said that it is taking a “forward-thinking” approach to cancer and looking at prevention as part of the drug discovery process. Specifically, Jay Bradner, the company’s head of drug R&D, said Novartis is developing drugs that target pathways that lead to cancer. Bradner said those pathways are very different than the ones used in drug discovery for treating cancer after it has developed. 

Bradner recognized that getting insurers on board with preventive treatments might be a tough sell. 

“It’s hard to imagine as a payer, how [one] might get excited about supporting access to a medicine for a patient at age 20 who’s going to be off your plan, benefitting at age 55,” he said. 

But Bradner said that meetings in Davos with industry leaders and health insurance representatives have been “productive in surprising ways,” and that the company will be “very thoughtful about the environment into which [new medicines] will be born.”

Read the full Business Insider report.