Group performance

Novartis delivered a solid financial performance in 2021, supported by sales growth in key products and increased margins. These factors helped counter the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in some therapeutic areas and a challenging environment for our generics business.

Strong sales of key products continued to underpin our financial performance in 2021. Novartis full-year net sales were USD 51.6 billion, up 4% from the prior year when measured in constant currencies (cc) to remove the impact of exchange rate movements, and up 6% when measured in US dollar terms. The COVID-19 pandemic continued to impact some therapeutic areas – most notably oncology and our generics business.

51.6 bn

Net sales (USD)

11.7 bn

Operating income (USD)

24.0 bn

Net income (USD)

In 2021, our growth products contributed USD 21.6 billion, or 52% of Innovative Medicines net sales. This was led by our heart failure medicine Entresto, which grew 40% (cc) to USD 3.5 billion, driven by increased patient share across major markets. In 2021, Entresto received approval in the US for an expanded indication in chronic heart failure.

Cosentyx, our treatment for psoriasis and other autoimmune diseases, also continued to grow strongly. Sales rose 17% (cc) from the prior year to USD 4.7 billion, driven by demand in the US and Europe as well as strong volume growth in China. Meanwhile, Zolgensma, our gene therapy for children with spinal muscular atrophy, delivered sales of USD 1.4 billion, up 46% (cc), reaching blockbuster status for the first time.

16.6 bn

Core operating income (USD)

13.3 bn

Free cash flow (USD)

Recently launched products also progressed well. Kesimpta, a treatment for relapsing multiple sclerosis that was approved in Europe in 2021, had sales of USD 372 million, driven by launch uptake, strong access and increased demand.

Our oncology products also contributed to the solid performance. Promacta, a treatment for blood disorders that is known as Revolade outside the US, grew 15% (cc) to USD 2.0 billion. Kisqali, a breast cancer treatment, had sales of USD 937 million, up 36% (cc). Jakavi, a treatment for blood disorders and cancers, grew 16% (cc) to USD 1.6 billion, showing double-digit growth across all regions.

Sales of Sandoz biopharmaceuticals continued to be a bright spot, with a 7% (cc) increase to USD 2.1 billion. However, that was countered by price competition and softer retail demand, including the impact of a weak cough and cold season, leading to an overall decline (-2%1 cc; 0% in US dollar terms) in Sandoz Division net sales.

Novartis Group sales in Europe, our largest market, grew 5% (cc). Sales in the US rose 2%. Sales in emerging growth markets grew 11% (cc), led by a double-digit increase in China.

Operating income was USD 11.7 billion, up 13% (cc) from the prior year, mainly driven by higher sales and lower legal expenses, partly offset by increased investments in marketing and sales and in research and development, and higher amortization. Net income was USD 24.0 billion, benefiting from the USD 14.6 billion gain from the divestment of our investment in Roche. Earnings per share were USD 10.71.

To help people understand our underlying performance, we also present our core results, which exclude the impact of amortization, restructurings, acquisitions and other significant items. Core operating income of USD 16.6 billion rose 6% (cc). Core net income of USD 14.1 billion rose 5% (cc). Core earnings per share were USD 6.29, up 7% (cc). Free cash flow of USD 13.3 billion was up 14%, driven by higher operating income adjusted for non-cash items and lower payments for legal provisions, partly offset by a USD 650 million upfront payment to in-license tislelizumab from an affiliate of BeiGene, Ltd.

Key figures1
(in USD millions, unless indicated otherwise)

(in USD millions, unless indicated otherwise)



% Change





Constant currencies

Net sales to third parties

51 626

48 659



Operating income

11 689

10 152



% of net sales to third parties





Net income

24 018

8 071



Basic earnings per share2 (USD)





Core operating income

16 588

15 416



% of net sales to third parties





Core net income

14 094

13 158



Core earnings per share2 (USD)





Free cash flow

13 282

11 691




This Novartis in Society Integrated Report 2021 includes non-IFRS financial measures such as core results, constant currencies and free cash flow. Novartis believes that investor understanding of the Group’s performance is enhanced by disclosing these non-IFRS measures. A definition of non-IFRS measures used by Novartis, and further details, including reconciliation tables, can be found in “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects” of the Novartis Annual Report 2021.


2021 weighted average number of shares outstanding: 2 243 million (2020: 2 277 million)

Share information




% Change


Share price at year-end (CHF)





ADR price at year-end (USD)





Dividend1 (CHF)






Dividend 2021: proposal to shareholders for approval at the Annual General Meeting on March 4, 2022

2021 net sales by division

(in USD millions, % growth in constant currencies, and divisional or business unit share of net sales)

2021 net sales by division (Pie chart)

2021 net sales by geographical region

(% of net sales and in USD millions)

2021 net sales by geographical region (Pie chart)

1 FY sales growth for Sandoz includes +1% impact from a reclassification of contract manufacturing from other revenue to sales