Continued growth in sales of key products underpinned a strong performance in the Innovative Medicines (IM) Division in 2020. Net sales of USD 39.0 billion grew 4% (cc) from the prior year. The COVID-19 pandemic weighed on demand in certain therapeutic areas, most notably in dermatology and ophthalmology. The Novartis Pharmaceuticals business unit had net sales of USD 24.3 billion, up 5% (cc), driven primarily by increases for Entresto, a heart failure treatment; Zolgensma, a gene therapy that treats spinal muscular atrophy; and Cosentyx, a treatment for psoriasis and other autoimmune diseases. Net sales in the Novartis Oncology business unit were USD 14.7 billion, up 3% (cc) from 2019, driven by increases for Promacta (known as Revolade outside the US), Jakavi and Kisqali. Newly launched products – including Tabrecta and Kesimpta – progressed well. Overall, products that we consider our key growth drivers contributed 49% of IM net sales in 2020. Core operating income for the division was USD 13.6 billion, up 11% (cc).
Our Sandoz Division delivered a solid performance with continued margin expansion. Sales were broadly in line with the previous year at USD 9.6 billion. Globally, growth continued to be driven by sales of biopharmaceuticals, including biosimilars, which rose 19% (cc) to USD 1.9 billion. Sales in the Retail Generics business declined 4% (cc), impacted primarily by the decline of the oral solids business in the US and by COVID-19-related disruptions to hospitals and medical practices. Overall Sandoz sales in Europe rose 2% (cc). Sales in the US were down 14%. Core operating income was USD 2.3 billion, up 15% (cc), driven by continued gross margin improvement and lower spending. Sandoz played a central role in the Novartis response to COVID-19, including becoming the first company in the industry to commit to keeping stable prices for a basket of essential medicines that may help in the treatment of COVID-19.