Vasella debates animal-rights extremists

Unlike other victims of animal rights extremists, Daniel Vasella isn't lying low, the Financial Times reports. Instead, he's personally warned 140 people who sent him critical emails "willingly or not you are associating yourself with criminal activity." And he defends his and his company's pharmaceutical testing, saying that those who try to prevent medical research should be "ashamed."

The warning and scolding comes via a letter seen by the FT, sent to people who had emailed the Novartis CEO about the company's animal research activities. Vasella and Novartis (NVS) have been targeted by animal rights activists, who not only desecrated the graves of Vasella's family members, but planned personal attacks on company employees.

Animal rights extremists have targeted drug company executives before. Most of them, however, don't personally fight back, the FT points out. Vasella has been different. He went on television soon after the most recent attacks--which included arson on his hunting lodge in the Tyrol--and now has personally argued with those who sent email. "We strongly condemn the use of violence and terrorist tactics... as a substitute for meaningful, productive dialogue," his letter stated. Will the emailers offer dialogue instead? We'll have to wait and see.

- read the FT piece