Novartis chief pans call for cheaper drugs

The head of Swiss pharmaceutical firm Novartis has criticised a call for lower drug prices by Interior Minister Pascal Couchepin.

This content was published on May 24, 2008 minutes

In comments made to the Berner Zeitung newspaper on Saturday, Daniel Vasella said lower drug prices would be "a double-edged sword" and could have a negative effect on Switzerland.

"The pressure from [Couchepin] is too strong," he told the newspaper. "Drugs in Switzerland are now cheaper than in Germany."

The Novartis chief argued that that reduced prices could decrease the amount firms invest in research and development, and added that new drugs reduced overall hospital costs.

Vasella also said that lower prices would affect tax revenues.

Basel-based Novartis, one of the world's largest drug firms, pays roughly SFr500 million ($488 million) in tax to the Swiss government annually.

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