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Novartis plans to dominate US cancer drug market

Novartis is looking to make big profits in the United States Keystone

The Swiss pharmaceutical giant, Novartis, says it aims to dominate the cancer drug treatment market in the United States, following the recent licensing of its revolutionary new pill, Glivec.

Analysts believe the drug, which is used to treat chronic myeloid leukaemia, has a market potential of around $400 million (Sfr710 million).

In an interview with the French language “”, David Epstein, head of Novartis’ cancer research unit, said the company was ready to make a big impact on the American market.

“Up until now, Novartis has hardly been a big name in the field of cancer research in the United States. Thanks to Glivec, we have become a major player which everyone should take notice of.”

“We have reached a critical mass in the United States and recently realised that we could compete on a level playing field with the big boys in terms of cancer research,” added Epstein. “We no longer want to be just another bit-part player. Our ambition is simply to dominate the market.”

The American market is the largest source of profits for the global drugs industry and Novartis, which already employs 185 researchers and 150 specialist sales reps in the US, is already looking at expanding its workforce.

Novartis has already announced that Glivec, which normally costs each patient $2,000 a month, will be priced in the US according to ability to pay. Up to 15 per cent of those affected by chronic myeloid leukaemia might be eligible for discounts.

Glivec was licensed by the US Food and Drugs Administration at the beginning of May and similar licence application have been lodged in Canada, Australia and Japan.

Novartis, which spent 16 years and between $600-800 million (SFr1-1.4 billion) developing the drug, hopes Glivec will be approved in Switzerland by the beginning of July.

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR