Novartis puts Russia on its to-do list

Daniel Vasella (photo) and FiercePharma must be on the same wavelength. After last week's trend piece about the many reasons why Big Pharma is looking to Russia as another growth market, the Novartis chairman told journalists at the World Economic Forum that his company sees Russia as its next big emerging-markets opportunity.

Seriously, Vasella says Russia is second on his target list, and he aims to get into the country in a big way within two or three years. "The potential, I believe, is substantial," he said (as quoted by Reuters). "[However,] we will only do these investments once we have a fair understanding of the risks."

China, of course, tops that list, as does with many a drugmaker these days. Novartis announced late last year that it would spend $1 billion to develop the largest pharma R&D facility in China. And that's just part of the company's plans for that country. Vasella would like to do "something similar" in Russia, he said. "Russia has a lot of talent and a great history of science, but unfortunately has lost, to some degree in some areas, the edge," Vasella said. "I think it can regain it."

- read the Reuters story