Kendris fills several roles at pharmaceutical giant Novartis. He’s the president of East Hanover-based Novartis Corp. and as such is the U.S. country head. Kendris also chairs the company’s country leadership team, which consists of all the country and business heads. And he is the global head of litigation, a role he retained after past stints as general counsel of several Novartis units, including its vaccines business during the H1N1 epidemic.
Like other leaders in New Jersey’s sprawling pharmaceutical industry, Kendris found himself on the front lines of a global battle that hit his home state particularly hard. Under Kendris Novartis moved quickly to establish its role. For example, when early research indicated that hydroxychloroquine — of which Novartis is a major supplier — might be an effective treatment for COVID-19, the company donated 130 million doses to a variety of institutions.
The company also worked on other treatments. “We’ve joined two cross-industry initiatives: the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator, backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as a COVID-19 directed partnership organized by the Innovative Medicines Initiative,” Kendris told NJBIZ in an interview this spring. “We’re engaged with both of them in research, but we’re also doing our own studies of two compounds.
In addition, the company has played a leading role in the battle against the virus outside its walls. Early on, the company created a $20 million global fund to support communities affected by the pandemic. In this country, the Novartis U.S. Foundation established a $5 million Community Response Fund, for immediate response and recovery efforts related to the outbreak.
More recently, the foundation committed $25 million to develop partnerships and fund community organizations and programs in the United States that address health inequities, with a focus on diversity in clinical trials.