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Novartis names new vaccine headquarters

Novartis, the second-largest supplier of flu vaccines in the US, has revealed that its new human vaccines headquarters will be located in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Novartis, the second-largest supplier of flu vaccines in the US, has revealed that its new human vaccines headquarters will be located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with the firm shipping more than 30 million doses of flu vaccines to the US for the current influenza season.

Fully staffed by H2 2007, the Swiss-based firm's vaccines and diagnostics site will house approximately 250 employees working in R&D, marketing, human resources, IT, finance and general management. Close by will be Novartis' Institutes for BioMedical Research (NIBR), the global pharmaceutical research headquarters for the company.

Novartis also has a global diagnostic business located in Emeryville, California, which supplies blood testing equipment. No changes to the function of the site have been announced and it will remain a research centre for NIBR.

Jorg Reinhart, CEO of Novartis' Vaccines and Diagnostics division, said of the new base: ìThe US is an important growth market and one where we are making major investments. Centralising our global operations in Cambridge will allow us to capitalise on the city's vibrant biotechnology environment, the excellent talent pool, as well as foster greater collaboration within Novartis.î

Novartis hopes to become the first to produce and market flu cell culture-based vaccines. The European submission will be completed in late 2006, and US clinical trials are underway. Novartis also submitted an adjuvanted H5N1 pre-pandemic vaccine in Europe around the same time.

Cell culture-based flu vaccines should overtake egg-based production in terms of reliability and faster rates of manufacture. A Novartis plant that produces cell-based vaccines has been scheduled for construction in Holly Springs, California, in 2007.

Novartis has also revealed that it will sell its Medical Nutrition business unit to NestlÈ for $2.5 billion (£1.3 million). The transaction, which still requires regulatory approval, is expected to complete in H2 2007. The Medical Nutrition business is, according to Novartis, the world number two supplier of enteral and oral nutrition, as well as medical devices used to provide nutrients.

The divestment follows Novartis' long-term strategy, which is to focus on healthcare. In 2006, the business is expected to generate approximately $950 million (£484.2 million) in net sales and $90 million (£45.9 million) of operating expenses.

30th September 2008

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