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Novartis China to launch six new drugs this year
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Swiss drug maker Novartis said yesterday its China sales rose 29 percent boosted by its patent drugs and indicated that it would launch six new drugs in the domestic market this year.

Sales rose to 3.3 billion yuan (US$428.13 million) in 2008 and expects it will register a 30 percent growth this year, senior company executives said.

Despite the financial crisis, "our performance in 2008 is the best in recent years", said Jeffrey Li, chief executive officer, Novartis China.

The drug maker is targeting a global sales growth of 5 percent this year.

China sales accounted for about 1 percent of Novartis' sales globally, Li said.

The company has so far invested 2.26 billion yuan. It plans to invest more this year in setting up infrastructure, research and development (R&D) and marketing, the CEO said.

The company also intends to hire 20 percent more staff this year, in line with its expansion plans in China. This is in sharp contrast to many other multinationals that are cutting jobs.

The company will also pay special attention on talent training. Li indicated that the company would double its expenditure on talent training this year.

Novartis China will pay more attention to local community clinics from this year, to cash in on the country's medical reform program.

It will help train doctors and educate patients at the clinics, as well as popularize diagnosis and therapy standards for commonly and frequently encountered diseases.

Novartis China began the construction of its R&D center in Shanghai in 2008. It is the third biggest within the group and the largest of its kind in Asia.

Novartis is also the only foreign pharmaceutical company to integrate comprehensive fundamental research work in China, said Li.

It was granted the 2008 China Charity Award by the Ministry of Civil Affairs for donating cash and drugs worth more than 15 million yuan during the Sichuan earthquake.

Its employees donated 1 million yuan to construct a primary school in Sichuan, which is expected to start functioning later this year.

(China Daily February 26, 2009)

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