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Novartis to invest $1 billion in China

Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis has announced a $1 billion (SFr1.02 billion) research and development investment in China over the next five years.

The investment will include a significant expansion of the Novartis Institute of BioMedical Research in Shanghai.

Demand for healthcare in China is growing rapidly, Novartis said in a statement. "In addition, the burden of disease now includes more chronic diseases associated with lifestyle choices," it added.

"We are confident that our expanded investment in R&D will result in innovative therapies for patients in China and other countries nurtured by the growing scientific excellence in China," Novartis CEO Daniel Vasella said.

The Shanghai institute will become the third largest R&D centre for Novartis, after its Cambridge, Massachusetts centre and the facility at the group's headquarters in Basel.

Estimates are that the number of R&D associate positions will increase from 160 today to about 1,000.