Pfizer cuts won’t force rivals to do same: Novartis CEO

Pfizer’s decision to trim its workforce by 10% won’t automatically force rivals to make similar cuts, Novartis’ chief executive Daniel Vasella said in a Reuters report. “Of course, each time you have a major competitor making some moves, it does influence the actions of others. But you cannot extrapolate that now, across the industry, people will just cut back,” Vasella said. Speaking to Reuters on the fringes of the World Economic Forum, Vasella said some drug companies, including Novartis, were in a growth phase due to the rollout of new products and were hiring additional marketing manpower. Novartis added 1,000 reps last year in anticipation of the anticipated launches of Galvus for Type 2 diabetes and Exforge for hypertension. Novartis expects regulators to grant Galvus marketing approval sometime in early 2007. Exforge won FDA approval in December 2006 and should reach the market by September 2007, Novartis said. Vasella added that Novartis no longer viewed its Gerber baby food business as core but said there was no pressure to sell it. “We are concentrating on healthcare and, with that, it is obvious that some pieces, like Gerber, are not really a core business. But, having said that, it is a fantastic brand, it does extremely well, it’s growing profitably and it’s very competitive in its segment, so there is no urgent need to divest,” he said.

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