According to their website, Novartis International AG is a Swiss-based multinational company with its world headquarters in Basel, Switzerland and its United States headquarters in Hancock, New Jersey. Novartis AG is one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world.
Novartis’ parent companies date back many years. Its history began with the formation of three companies:
- Geigy was a chemical and dye company that was founded in Basel, Switzerland, in the 18th
- Ciba, a dye company, was founded in Switzerland in 1859.
- Kern and Sandoz, a chemical company, was founded in Basel in 1886.
Cinba began producing pharmaceutical products in the early 1990s, and the Ciba and Geigy companies merged in 1972. Novartis International AG was formed with merger of two pharmaceutical companies in 1996, Ciba-Geigy and Sandoz. Some of the businesses of the companies were sold or spun off into independent companies, leaving the major company.
Novartis International AG belongs to major organizing associations in the countries it is represented in, including the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations, the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations, and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.
Medicines: How Many Medications Do Novartis Manufacture?
As would be expected of a company with its stature, Novartis International AG has an extensive product line. Its website lists well over 100 medicines marketed in the United States alone. Some of the major medications marketed by Novartis include:
- Afinitor (everolimus): treats the spread of cancer
- Amturnide (aliskiren/amlodipine/hydrochlorothiazide): blocks the growth of tumors.
- Arcapta (indacaterol): lowers blood pressure.
- Arranon (nelarabine): assists in the treatment of COPD
- Arzerra (ofatumumab): aids in the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia
- Cataflam (diclofenac): a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication
- Clozaril (clozapine): an antipsychotic medication used in the treatment of schizopherina and other psychotic disorders
- Comtan (entacapone): helps to treat issues associated with Parkinson’s disease
- Cosentyx (secukinumab): helps to treat psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis
- Desferal (deferoxamine): treats certain forms of anemia
- Diovan (valsartan): an antihypertensive medication
- Entresto (sacubitril/valsartan): an antihypertensive medication.
- Excedrin PM Headache (acetaminophen/aspirin/diphenhydramine): an over-the-counter pain reliever and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug
- Exelon (rivastigmine): an early drug used to help delay the progression of dementias, such as Alzheimer’s disease
- Exforge (amlodipine/valsartan): a calcium channel blocker used to treat hypertension
- Extavia (interferon beta‐1b): used in the treatment of relapsing multiple sclerosis
- Famvir (famciclovir): an antiviral medication that can slow down the spread of the herpes virus
- Farydak (panobinostat): helps to curb cancer growth in humans
- Femara (letrozole): used to treat breast cancer in postmenopausal women
- Gilenya (fingolimod): used to treat relapsing multiple sclerosis
- Gleevec (imatinib): used to treat certain types of cancers
- Hycamtin (topotecan): used to treat ovarian and breast cancer, particularly in patients who do not respond to other treatments
- Jadenu (deferasirox): used to treat high levels of iron in the blood
- Lamisil (terbinafine) used to treat infections caused by fungus in the fingernails or toenails.
- Lescol (fluvastatin): used to lower cholesterol and levels of triglycerides in the blood
- Lopressor (metoprolol): used to treat high blood pressure
- Lotrel (amlodipine/benazepril): used to treat high blood pressure
- Mekinist (trametinib): used to treat certain types of cancer
- Myfortic (mycophenolic acid): used to treat potential rejection of new organs in transplant patients
- Neoral and Sandimmune (cyclosporine): used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis as well as to avoid organ rejection in transplant patients
- Promacta (eltrombopag): increases the efficiency of blood clotting and reduces bleeding
- Reclast (zoledronic acid): increases bone density and can be used for conditions like osteoporosis and other disorders
- Ritalin (methylphenidate): a central nervous stimulant medication use for treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy; Schedule II controlled substance, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)
- Robitussin Multi‐Symptom Cold Cough formula (dextromethorphan/guaifenesin/phenylephrine): an over-the-counter cough suppressant medication that contains the potential drug of abuse dextromethorphan (DMX)
- Signifor (pasireotide): used in the treatment of endocrine disorders, such as Cushing’s disease
- Stalevo (carbidopa/entacapone/levodopa): treats issues associated with Parkinson’s disease
- Starlix (nateglinide): helps to treat diabetes mellitus
- Tafinlar (dabrafenib): helps to treat the spread of cancer
- Tasigna (nilotinib): helps to control the spread of cancer cells
- Tegretol (carbamazepine): an anticonvulsant medication primarily used to treat seizures associated with epilepsy
- Tekturna (aliskiren): an antihypertensive medication
- Trileptal (oxcarbazepine): an anticonvulsant medication
- Vivelle‐Dot (estradiol): treats issues associated with menopause
- Voltaren‐XR (diclofenac): a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication used to treat pain and inflammation
- Votrient (pazopanib): used in the treatment of kidney cancer
- Xolair (omalizumab): used to treat severe asthma that can be caused by infections
- Zofran (ondansetron): used to treat nausea and vomiting caused by surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation treatment for cancer
- Zometa (zoledronic acid): used to treat certain types of cancer and osteoporosis
- Zortress (everolimus): used to prevent organ rejection after transplant surgery
- Zykadia (ceritinib): used to treat non-small cell lung cancer
Lawsuits and Issues
Novartis International AG has been involved in a number of lawsuits and legal actions.
- Although this action occurred before the formation of Novartis international AG, it is worth noting. In 1992, Sandoz, one of the parent companies of Novartis, settled for $21 million in an antitrust case that alleged that the drug Clozaril was only sold to patients who subscribed to a monitoring service that increased the cost of treatment with the drug to about $9,000 a year. This was a significant amount of money in the 1990s (or for most people in any decade), particularly for individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia who typically do not have significant incomes.
In 2002, there were a series of class action lawsuits filed in five states regarding the drug Ritalin. All five lawsuits had been dismissed by 2002. The class action lawsuits claimed that Novartis had conspired with the American Psychiatric Association to invent attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in order to market the drug. In addition, an organization known as CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) was alleged to increase the supply of Ritalin and ease restrictions on the supply to increase profits.There is no evidence that there is any conspiracy to increase Ritalin sales by creating the disorder ADHD; instead, the real issue that was never addressed fully is the overdiagnosis of ADHD by unqualified assessments and incomplete evaluations. There are numerous lawsuits against Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, the United States subsidiary of Novartis International AG, alleging that harmful side effects associated with the use of Ritalin were known by the company and either hidden or not emphasized to parents of children who used the drug.
- In 2010, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation came to an agreement with the US attorney’s office regarding an investigation into criminal and civil allegations of it promoting nonapproved off-label uses for a number of drugs, including Trileptal, Diovan, and Exforge. The charges indicated that the company engaged in a number of unethical actions, including paying out fees and other bribes to physicians for prescribing these medications for off-label uses. The company agreed to pay $422.5 million in fees and enter into a Corporate Integrity Agreement with the United States Department of Health and Human Services that would provide monitoring, auditing, reporting, disclosures, and training in accordance with the ethical values of their business practice in the pharmaceutical industry.
In 2013, the United States sued Novartis Pharmaceutical Corporation again for bribing doctors to needlessly prescribe a number of medications to patients for off-label uses. Other allegations included providing fishing vacations and trips to the restaurant Hooters to doctors under the guise of professional engagements in an effort to bribe them. Allegations of lavish dinners, paybacks, kickbacks, etc., covered the years 2001 through 2011. Novartis settled in 2015 for $390 million.
- There have been numerous lawsuits associated with the medication Zofran as many companies marketed it for off-label uses, such as using it to treat morning sickness associated with being pregnant. The drug is also associated with an increased risk of birth defects for children born to women who use the drug for this purpose. Many of these lawsuits are ongoing, and there also class action lawsuits associated with this medication.
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