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Vasella condemns ìhealthcare nationalismî

Novartis chief says governments favour local companies over multinationals

Novartis chief executive Daniel Vasella has criticised a rising trend of nationalism in the pharmaceutical sector, which he said was threatening economic efficiency, medical innovation and improved patient health.

Vasella told the Financial Times: ìWe are seeing healthcare nationalism coming back. From Japan to the US, it's all over the place.î

Recently, mergers in the sector have reflected governments' desire for national corporate champions. Ministers have shown their support for domestic industries by putting their weight behind local mergers.

Earlier this year, Germany's Bayer agreed to acquire local rival Schering AG while Novartis itself lost out in a bidding war for French firm, Aventis in 2004. In a highly politicised battle, the French government supported a rival offer from fellow French firm, Sanofi-Synthelabo.

Vasella, who is also president of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations, also criticised a 13 per cent price cut on hundreds of imported branded medicines imposed by the Polish government.

He said the move reflected ìgovernment pressure on multinational groups in favour of the promotion of local companiesî.

30th September 2008

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