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Drug nationalism warning

7th July 2006

A rising trend of nationalism within the drugs market could threaten medical innovation and be a barrier to improving patient health, says a leading pharmaceutical boss.

Daniel Vasella, head of Novartis, the Swiss-based multinational and president of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations, said the trend could also threaten economic efficiency.

Driven by efforts to support local pharmaceutical companies at the expensive of foreign firms, the trend of nationalism could cost patients dear, he says.

Drug firms are warning that low prices will restrict innovation and lead to slower access by patients to newer generations of medicines. Already US group Pfizer has cut supplies of its top-selling anticholesterol drug Lipitor after the German authorities introduced price cuts to bring it in line with cheaper generic alternatives.

Meanwhile in the US, fears over access to flu drugs and vaccines should a pandemic strike, has led them demand local production on suppliers.

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