Novartis - 10 Largest U.S. Patent Losses

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Drug: Diovan
Company: Novartis
2010 U.S. sales: $2.520 billion/$6.053 billion global
Impact: 15.89% of U.S. sales
Exclusivity expires: September 2012

Novartis is one of the drugmakers taking a more-is-better approach to withstanding the loss of its biggest-selling drug. The Swiss company shelled out $51.6 billion to buy eye-care company Alcon, pumping up its own ophthalmic division, CibaVision, by a factor of four, if the company's second-quarter results are any indication. The company had already beefed up its generics unit Sandoz, as well as its vaccines business. The "focused diversification" touted by now-Chairman Daniel Vasella (photo) means Novartis has more businesses to keep revenues coming when Diovan's numbers begin to erode.

More efficiency matters, too. CEO Joe Jimenez (photo) has been streamlining operations since he joined the company as COO, applying metrics from outside the industry to wring costs from its supply chain and financial management. Novartis announced late last month that it would amp up its cost-cutting measures to take more than $1.9 billion out of its annual cost structure this year, on top of last year's $1.9 billion. The latest cuts include 2,400 jobs. Jimenez says the more efficient operations are, the more Novartis can invest into R&D, which has recently delivered some promising new drugs expected to help take up the Diovan slack, including the oral multiple sclerosis treatment Gilenya.

Jimenez has plans to hang onto Diovan sales by focusing promotional efforts on emerging markets. By marketing to doctors in Latin America and Asia, where the Novartis name allows Diovan to command a premium over currently available generics, Jimenez figures the company can keep global sales at $2 billion.