is donating 130 million hydroxychloroquine
doses to support efforts against the epidemic, though the European Union has so far said there is no proof it works.
Novartis said the Aurobindo deal's collapse was not coronavirus-related, from its perspective, but stemmed from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission's not giving approval within expected timelines. The transaction was supposed to have been completed last year but was delayed repeatedly.
Narasimhan announced the transaction with India's Aurobindo in September 2018 as he hoped to shed generics assets in the United States that have faced fierce price pressure and dragged down Sandoz's profitability.
In 2019, the U.S. assets continued to weigh on Sandoz's performance, as the generics division's sales fell 1% to $9.7 billion as price erosion in the United States canceled growth elsewhere. Sales in the oral solids and skin business fell to $1.1 billion in 2019 from $1.2 billion in 2018.
Earlier this year, Novartis projected Sandoz's sales were expected to grow at a low-single-digit rate in 2020, excluding the U.S. oral solids and dermatology businesses. The company did not immediately update guidance now that Sandoz will continue to operate the assets within its U.S. business.
Though a tiny part of Sandoz's and other drugmakers' portfolios, hydroxychloroquine
has been subject of intense attention after U.S. President Donald Trump touted it as a potential miracle cure against COVID-19.
The EU has sought to mute expectations, however, citing a lack of data on whether the drug works, but countries including India and Hungary have banned exports as trials are underway to assess its efficacy.