Swiss pricing pressure angers Vasella

Daniel Vasella (photo) is riled. The Novartis CEO says its hometown officials are putting too much pressure on drug prices. Swiss Interior Minister Pascal Couchepin should keep in mind that reduced prices could interfere with innovation--and would lower Novartis' tax revenues, too. (The company pays $488 million or so to the Swiss government each year.) "The pressure from (Couchepin) is too strong,” he told the Berner Zeitung. “Drugs in Switzerland are now cheaper than in Germany.”

Meanwhile, Novartis may be celebrating the EU's OK to sell its new Extavia MS drug. Rightfully so. But even after launching the drug--first in a new portfolio of Novartis treatments for MS--the company has, shall we say, a long row to hoe. Extavia will face stiff competition from existing drugs such as Bayer's Betaseron. It could take a couple of years for Novartis to penetrate the MS market in any significant way, analysts say. "It is difficult to know what market percentage Novartis is going to achieve with this new drug," Tom Muller, an analyst with Theodoor Gilissen, told "They have to start from scratch."

- see the Forbes article on Extavia
- check out the Pharmalot item on Vasella