Supplies from China stable for now, but monitoring situation: Novartis’ Vas Narasimhan

PT Jyothi Datta Mumbai | Updated on February 17, 2020 Published on February 17, 2020

17/02/2020 MUMBAI: Dr. Vasant (Vas) Narasimhan, Global CEO Novartis in Interview with Business Line in mumbai on February 17, 2020. Photo By. Paul Noronha   -  PAUL NORONHA

Even as the coronavirus outbreak casts a shadow of uncertainty on supplies sourced from China, Novartis’ Global Chief Executive Officer Vasant (Vas) Narasimhan said the supplies are stable for now, but the company is monitoring the evolving situation.

“Initially our focus was to protect our associates and make sure our global supply chains are stable...What I can say right now is that we have opened our offices again and we have given our people flexibility over from where they work; some are opting to come in and some are opting to work from home,” Narasimhan told BusinessLine during a whistle-stop visit to Mumbai before heading to Hyderabad to participate in the BioAsia event. The Swiss drugmaker has a massive research centre in Shanghai.

“In terms of our supply chains, for now we’re in good shape. We hold safety stock across our portfolios — it gives us enough time to manage. Most of our production facilities are not in Wuhan province,” he said. “For now, we have guided to no impact on our financials this year.” The evolving situation will become more clear in the coming months, he added.

The Indian-origin Narasimhan, who took over as Novartis CEO about two years ago, was involved in public health before his present day corporate avatar.

Diversified presence

Addressing the public health concern and corporate worry of being dependent on one or two markets, he said: “Our supply chain at the moment is pretty well diversified. We’re happy that we’ve kept a presence for some production in Europe. So we have production facilities across Europe, we have production facilities in China, in India. We have suppliers as well from Europe, India and China. It does point to the importance of having appropriate duplication in your supply chain. Because if there is a big issue in one country, it can cause significant disruption. One of the things we are fortunate in is that we have enough redundancy in our supply chain to keep supplies.”

Published on February 17, 2020
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