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Staying on top Novartis boss keeps faith in new cancer treatments

The head of Swiss pharma giant, Novartis, Joe Jimenez, explains why he thinks the company’s cancer drugs strategy will keep it on top. (SRF/swissinfo.ch) 

Since Jimenez became CEO in 2010, he has restructured Novartis, turning a loosely affiliated set of divisions into a fully integrated company, with oncology at the top of the hierarchy.

He told Swiss public television, SRF, “We’re making a big bet, not just on our current targeted therapies but also on immune oncology agents”. 

Novartis is the number two pharma company in the world, just ahead of its Swiss rival, Roche at number three. Both companies published half-yearly results this week. Novartis said its earnings had exceeded expectations. Roche increased turnover by 6%. 

But Novartis has felt the pinch since patent protection ran out on its blockbuster cancer drug, Gleevec, allowing other companies to develop cheaper copies. Novartis is trying to make up for lost profits by introducing new types of cancer treatments, but these take about ten years to develop and are very expensive. Jimenez says new ways of pricing life-saving treatments are being discussed. 

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