"We want to go ahead with our investment plan in Italy." Daniel Vasella, president and CEO of the pharmaceutical giant Novartis, calmly articulates the words while reaffirming the group's willingness to expand its presence in the peninsula. «For us, the Italian market remains important – says Vasella – and we intend to continue with our projects. We have our pharmaceutical activities in Italy and we have the international vaccine hub in Siena, we certainly do not want to stop ».
As far as Siena is concerned, in recent months Novartis had expressed its intention to implement an ambitious expansion plan, both in research and in production, with new investments worth hundreds of millions of euros. More precisely, from a minimum of 100 million to a maximum of 600 million. The exact figure doesn't exist yet, it will depend on the feasible variants, but in the meantime Vasella dispels doubts and rejects the possibility of a stop to expansion in Italy. "Some things are moving in the sector in Italy - says the president of Novartis - and we naturally want to do our part". The number one of the Swiss giant sees the possibility of an improvement in the Italian picture both as regards the interlocutors of the public hand, and as regards the rules governing the sector. Of course Novartis, like other groups, continues to hope that more space will be given to innovation in Italy too and that the path for those who invest and for those who launch new products can be more linear. But in the meantime it doesn't stop.
Vasella explains the Novartis line to Il Sole 24 Ore in a break from the meetings that follow each other at a good pace in this year's edition of the Novartis European Biocamp, an event that brings university students into contact with the group's Research managers. This year the Biocamp was also the occasion for the announcement of a contribution from Novartis of 25 million francs (16 million euros) to the ETH Zurich and Lausanne and the University of Basel, under the banner of cooperation between industry and academia and the strengthening of training.
As regards the results of the group, which is active in both patent medicines and generic medicines, Vasella remains fairly optimistic for 2008, despite the complex picture of the international economy at this stage. In the first six months of this year, the group's turnover increased to 20.6 billion dollars (+11% compared to a year earlier), the net profit increased to 4.6 billion dollars (+13% ). In Italy, Novartis recorded revenues of 674 million euros (+6%) for the six months. The resources dedicated to Research and Development and to investments in the peninsula reached 93 million euros (+10%) in the period. There is no shortage of challenges and the point remains continuous innovation, say Vasella and Novartis top managers. In the world and also in Italy. Lino Terlizzi BASEL
Il Sole 24 Ore of 08/29/2008 ECONOMY AND BUSINESS p. 21