Europe's second biggest healthcare group, Basel-based Novartis, continued to generate double-digit growth rates for drug sales in its key United States markets during the second quarter.
In an interview with the German-language newspaper "Weltwoche", on Thursday, Novartis chairman, Daniel Vasella, said the firm was steadily improving its position in the American market.
"Compared with US companies, we naturally have a smaller percentage of our sales in the United States, but we are growing fast," Vasella said.
"We grew more than 20 per cent in the first quarter of this year and will grow by a double-digit figure in the second quarter as well. We are among the 10 biggest drug companies in America."
The head of the Swiss healthcare group also refused to rule out a potential merger with the Swiss healthcare group, Roche, in which Novartis recently acquired a 20 per cent voting stake.
Novartis's pharmaceutical sales in the US rose 22 per cent in the first quarter, when overall group pharmaceutical sales advanced 13 per cent in local currencies.
The US is the world's biggest pharmaceutical market.
Vasella also reiterated that Novartis' 20 per cent stake in Roche was primarily a financial investment but one with strategic importance.
He said it would be "irresponsible" to rule out a merger with family-controlled Roche at some stage because he did not know what the future might hold in a still consolidating healthcare sector.
"The most important thing is to keep all options open," he added.
Novartis aims to be one of the top 10 to 15 players that are likely to emerge during the consolidation process, Vasella noted.
swissinfo with agencies
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