Hitt og þetta 24. apríl 2006

Novartis delivers strong start to 2006 in first quarter with excellent sales and earnings

* Group first quarter net sales up 13% in USD (+17% in local currencies) based on strong underlying sales expansion in all divisions and positive acquisition impact - Pharmaceuticals gains market share, net sales advance 5% (+9% lc) thanks to double-digit growth in Cardiovascular and Oncology franchises - Sandoz product launches and Hexal/Eon Labs acquisitions lead to dynamic sales performance * Group operating income rises 31%, driven by Pharmaceuticals and Sandoz as well as one-time divestment gain in Consumer Health - Pharmaceuticals operating income up 19%, margin improves to 32.2% of net sales, reflecting underproportional Marketing & Sales and R&D investments * Net income climbs 32% to USD 2.0 billion and EPS rises 32% to USD 0.83 per share * Highly-rated Novartis pipeline progresses as US submissions completed for Galvus (type 2 diabetes) and Rasilez (hypertension)

Key figures

First quarter

Q1 2006 Q1 2005 % Change % of % of USD m net sales USD m net sales USD Lc Net sales 8 301 7 341 13 17 Pharmaceuticals 5 052 4 789 5 9 Sandoz 1 431 803 78 88 Consumer Health 1 818 1 749 4 7 Operating income 2 202 26.5 1 680 22.9 31 Net income 1 956 23.6 1 477 20.1 32 Basic earnings per share/ADS USD USD 0.83 0.63 32

Basel, April 24, 2006 - Commenting on the results, Dr. Daniel Vasella, Chairman and CEO of Novartis, said, "I am pleased with the strong start of Novartis in 2006 with yet another quarter of market share gains, thanks to the fast growth of our new and well established products. In cardiovascular, Diovan ranks No. 1 in its class. In oncology, our breakthrough medicine Gleevec/Glivec was submitted in the US and Europe for approval for the treatment of four rare types of cancer, providing hope to additional patients suffering from cancer. Several very innovative drugs from our strong pipeline were submitted for approval during the first quarter, including in the US for Galvus for type 2 diabetes as well as Rasilez for hypertension. Our new vaccines and diagnostics division, following the completion of the Chiron acquisition, will provide new growth opportunities driven by innovation and urgent public health needs. I am confident that Novartis will continue to grow strongly and achieve another full year of record sales and earnings."

Net sales

Group net sales up 13% (+17% lc) to USD 8.3 billion Double-digit net sales growth of 13% (+17% lc) to USD 8.3 billion came mainly from dynamic growth in Pharmaceuticals, which continued to outpace the market, and Sandoz through the contribution of the Hexal and Eon Labs acquisitions as well as recent product launches. A strong expansion in OTC supported Consumer Health. Volume increases and acquisitions each contributed eight percentage points to net sales growth, while currencies had a negative impact of four percentage points. Net price increases contributed one percentage point.

Novartis improved its share of the global health care market (including Pharmaceuticals and Sandoz) to 5.4% for the first two months of 2006, up from 5.2% in the year-ago period (restated to include Hexal and Eon Labs), according to IMS Health. Pharmaceuticals increased its share of the global health care market to 3.9% from 3.8% in the same period.

Pharmaceuticals net sales advance 5% (+9% lc) to USD 5.1 billion Net sales were up 5% in the first quarter, but rose at a faster 9% pace in local currencies and delivered growth ahead of the market. Both the Cardiovascular and Oncology franchises generated strong double-digit growth, while the Neuroscience franchise also had an excellent performance. Cardiovascular franchise strategic product sales were up 14% (+17% lc) thanks to the leading anti-hypertension medicines Diovan/Co-Diovan and Lotrel. Oncology sales climbed 10% (+15% lc) from ongoing growth for Gleevec/Glivec and Femara as well as the launch of the iron chelator Exjade following US approval in November 2005. Excluding the 2005 prior-years' US sales rebate accounting adjustment of USD 62 million, net sales were up 8% in local currencies.

Recent new product launches performed well, including Prexige (pain therapy) in Brazil, the UK and Mexico; Focalin XR (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) in the US; and Xolair (asthma) in its first European markets after EU approval in late 2005.

In the US, net sales rose 15% to USD 2.1 billion, driven by Diovan, Lotrel and Zelnorm as well as Zometa, Gleevec/Glivec, Femara and Exjade. Also supporting growth in the US was the Focalin/Ritalin product family. Partially offsetting this performance were lower sales of Elidel, affected by a change in prescribing information, and Visudyne, which has faced increased competition. Excluding the US rebate accounting adjustment in 2005, net sales were up 11% in local currencies.

Net sales in Europe declined 7% in US dollars but were up 1% in local currencies as strong performances from Diovan/Co-Diovan, Gleevec/Glivec, Femara, Comtan/Stalevo and Exelon offset lower sales of Lamisil, Clozaril and Foradil, which were affected by generic competition in some countries. Net sales in Japan, the world's second-largest pharmaceutical market, were down 10% in US dollars but were up 1% in local currencies, driven by Diovan and Glivec. Emerging growth markets delivered outstanding performances, with sales rising 28% (+31% lc) based on strong double-digit growth in Turkey, Russia, China and India.

Sandoz net sales rise 78% (+88% lc) to USD 1.4 billion Net sales were driven by strong growth in the retail business, particularly in Eastern Europe, Canada, Germany and Switzerland as well as new product launches. Key launches since the 2005 first quarter included the antibiotics azithromycin (Zithromax®) and ceftriaxone (Rocephin®) in the US as well as terbinafine (Lamisil) and a fentanyl (Duragesic®) patch in Germany. The integration of Hexal and Eon Labs is proceeding rapidly and according to plan.

Consumer Health net sales up 4% (+7% lc) to USD 1.8 billion Double digit growth in OTC helped Consumer Health to a 4% increase (+7% lc) in the first quarter. A good US cough-and-cold season as well as higher sales of Voltaren in Europe supported OTC. Animal Health delivered double-digit growth, with sales spread more evenly over the year compared to prior years. Gerber delivered mid-single-digit growth, while Medical Nutrition sales remained flat. CIBA Vision sales were lower, impacted by ongoing remediation of a lens-care product supply issue.

Operating income

First quarter

+-------------------------------------------------------------------+ | | Q1 | Q1 2005 | Change | | | 2006 | | | |--------------------------+---------------+---------------+--------| | | | % of | | % of | | | | | net | USD | net | | | | USD m | sales | m | sales | In % | |--------------------------+-------+-------+------+--------+--------| | Pharmaceuticals | | | 1 | | | | | 1 626 | 32.2 | 364 | 28.5 | 19 | |--------------------------+-------+-------+------+--------+--------| | Sandoz | 238 | 16.6 | 110 | 13.7 | 116 | |--------------------------+-------+-------+------+--------+--------| | Consumer Health | 458 | 25.2 | 286 | 16.4 | 60 | |--------------------------+-------+-------+------+--------+--------| | Corporate income & | | | | | | | expense, net | -120 | | -80 | | 50 | |--------------------------+-------+-------+------+--------+--------| | Total | | | 1 | | | | | 2 202 | 26.5 | 680 | 22.9 | 31 | +-------------------------------------------------------------------+

Group operating income advances 31% to USD 2.2 billion Operating income rose 31%, at a sharply faster pace than sales thanks to the strong business expansion as well as a one-time gain of USD 129 million from the divestment of Nutrition & Santé. Excluding one-time divestment gains in both years, Group operating income would have risen 29% for the first quarter.

Pharmaceuticals operating income up 19% to USD 1.6 billion The operating margin improved to 32.2% of net sales, up 3.7 percentage points from the year-ago period. Marketing & Sales expenses fell 3% and declined 2.6 percentage points to 30.3% as a percentage of net sales, based mainly on reduced launch investments compared to the year-ago period and ongoing productivity initiatives. Marketing & Sales investments will rise during the year for pre-launch investments in Galvus, Rasilez and Exforge, all of which are planned to be submitted for US and EU approval in 2006. R&D expenses rose 2% in the quarter but fell to 18.3% as a percentage of net sales, contributing 0.6 percentage points to the improved margin following the completion in 2005 of several Phase III trials. Costs of Goods Sold (COGS), however, were up 9% and led to a decline of 0.6 percentage points in the margin due to increased royalty payments and write-offs related to the Foradil Certihaler device recall in Germany and Switzerland. Other Income & Expenses as a percentage of sales improved 0.4 percentage points mainly due to lower profit-sharing expenses for Visudyne. General & Administrative expenses improved by 0.3 percentage points of net sales from productivity improvements and phasing of expenses. Excluding the 2005 prior-years' US sales rebate accounting adjustment of USD 62 million and product divestments in both periods, operating income was up 19%.

Sandoz operating income advances to USD 238 million Operating income more than doubled to USD 238 million from USD 110 million in the year-ago period, reflecting the acquisition of Hexal and Eon Labs in mid-2005 and the strong volume expansion in Europe. The overall operating margin improved by 2.9 percentage points to 16.6% of net sales. Novartis is committed to achieving annual cost synergies of USD 200 million from the acquisitions, with 50% to be achieved by the end of 2006.

Consumer Health operating income rises 60% to USD 458 million Operating income surged 60% to USD 458 million, mainly the result of a one-time gain of USD 129 million from the Nutrition & Santé divestment that was completed in February 2006. Excluding the impact of divestments in both periods, operating income was up 18%.

Group net income up 32% to USD 2.0 billion Net income was USD 2.0 billion in the first quarter, an increase of 32% from USD 1.5 billion in the year-ago period. As a percentage of sales, net income rose to 23.6% of net sales from 20.1% in the 2005 first quarter, mainly due to the strong underlying business expansion and the one-time gain related to the Nutrition & Santé divestiture.

Group outlook (Barring any unforeseen events and excluding the impact of the Chiron acquisition) Novartis is off to a strong start in 2006, delivering dynamic growth from its medicine-based portfolio as it prepares for the launches of several new products and further expanding its strong pipeline. The addition of a fourth division - to be named Vaccines & Diagnostics - following the Chiron acquisition provides a new strategic growth platform. For the full year, high-single-digit net sales growth (excluding Chiron) is anticipated for the Group in local currencies, while Pharmaceuticals net sales are seen growing in the mid-to-high single digits. Record levels of operating and net income are expected in 2006. Pharmaceutical business and key product highlights

Note: All growth figures refer to worldwide sales growth in local currencies, unless otherwise specified.

Diovan (USD 939 million, +16% lc) extended its global leadership position in the angiotensin-receptor blocker (ARB) class of anti-hypertensive agents. Diovan increased its share of the global ARB class to 30.0% in February 2006, ranking No. 1 in the US and performing well in Europe and Japan. Key growth drivers have been the strong formulary position of Diovan and Co-Diovan (a combination of Diovan and a diuretic) in the US, where it is the most widely covered ARB on Medicare formularies, as well as disease awareness and education programs. Sales in Europe have been supported in particular by Co-Diovan, with leading performances from Italy and Germany.

Gleevec/Glivec (USD 559 million, +18% lc), for patients with all stages of Philadelphia-chromosome positive (Ph+) chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) and for certain forms of gastro-intestinal stromal tumors (GIST), kept delivering double-digit sales growth. Ongoing penetration of the CML and GIST markets, an increase in the average daily dose and an increasing number of patients thanks to improved survival have supported sales. US and EU submissions for approval as a treatment for four rare types of cancer have been completed.

Zometa (USD 319 million, +10% lc), an intravenous bisphosphonate for patients with bone metastases, benefited from increasing use in patients with lung and prostate cancers, gaining market share in Europe despite new competition. In April, Zometa received approval in Japan for treatment of bone metastases. A patent extension until 2012 has been granted for Zometa in the US. Enrollment was completed eight months early in the first large-scale trial to evaluate if Zometa improves disease-free survival in women with high-risk early breast cancer.

Lotrel (USD 295 million, +28% only in US), the No. 1 fixed-dose combination treatment for hypertension in the US since 2002, delivered double-digit growth thanks to US disease awareness campaigns and physician guidelines recommending multiple therapies to bring elevated blood pressure under control.

Sandostatin (USD 216 million, +1% lc) sales, for patients with acromegaly as well as treatment of patients with certain tumors, were slightly higher as strong growth for the long-acting LAR version expanded at a double-digit rate and offsetting lower sales of the subcutaneous formulation in the US, where it faces generic competition.

Neoral/Sandimmun (USD 214 million, +0% lc), for use in organ transplantation, had largely unchanged worldwide sales as modest growth in the rest of the world offset a decline in the US based on the impact of ongoing generic competition.

Lamisil (USD 200 million, -17% lc), an oral treatment for fungal nail infections, reported lower worldwide sales following generic entries in several European markets in late 2005, but sales in the US were slightly higher.

Femara (USD 152 million, +33% lc) delivered robust growth based on expansion of use in both the treatment of women with hormone-related breast cancer immediately after surgery (adjuvant) in the US as well as after completing tamoxifen therapy (extended adjuvant) worldwide. Femara received its first approval under the European mutual recognition procedure in Germany during the first quarter for use in the adjuvant setting. Femara, which also received approval in Japan during the first quarter, is the first aromatase inhibitor to demonstrate greater benefit in women at increased risk of breast cancer recurrence. A new global 4,000 patient head-to-head trial comparing Femara to anastrozole was also launched during the quarter. The FACE (Femara vs. Anastrozole Clinical Evaluation) trial is the first comparative study of these two aromatase inhibitors in a post-surgery setting.

Zelnorm/Zelmac (USD 109 million, +36% lc), for irritable bowel syndrome with constipation (IBS-C) and chronic idiopathic constipation, maintained good double-digit growth rates, benefiting from increasing awareness of the diseases and the product's benefits. Total prescriptions in the US reached an all-time high in January 2006, up 33% from the year-earlier period. An opinion by the Committee for Medicinal Products (CHMP) issued in March against European approval does not impact Zelnorm/Zelmac's existing approval for IBS-C in more than 56 countries as well as in over 20 countries for chronic constipation.

Visudyne (USD 107 million, -10% lc), for "wet" AMD (age-related macular degeneration), reported lower sales in the first quarter following the entry of off-label competition in the US in 2005, but continued to grow well outside of the US.

Elidel (USD 48 million, -54% lc), a treatment for the skin condition eczema, reported lower sales based on the continuing impact of an FDA health advisory statement issued in March 2005. The US prescribing information for Elidel was updated in January 2006 to include a boxed warning and medication guide that make clear no causal link has been established between the use of Elidel and rare post-marketing reports of malignancy. In Europe, the CHMP issued a report in March that reaffirmed the role of Elidel in treating mild-to-moderate eczema, but recommended that products in this class should be used with greater caution. Novartis remains confident in the safety and efficacy of Elidel, one of the world's most studied dermatological products.

Exjade has performed well since receiving accelerated US regulatory approval in November 2005, the first worldwide, as the first and only once-daily oral iron chelator. Primary use has been for the treatment of patients with the rare blood disorders thalassemia, sickle cell anemia and myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). Exjade has already been approved in 15 countries, including Switzerland, and has been submitted for regulatory approval in Europe and other markets worldwide.

Xolair was launched in Germany and the UK in October 2005 following EU approval, with launches planned for other European markets - particularly France, Spain and Italy - during the year. Xolair is now approved in 42 countries and is considered by many experts to be one of the most significant advances in the last 15 years for helping patients with asthma. Genentech, which distributes Xolair exclusively in the US and shares a portion of its operating income with Novartis and Tanox, reported first quarter sales of USD 95 million for the product. The operating income contribution to Novartis was USD 32 million and is accounted for as Other Revenues in the consolidated income statement. Pharmaceuticals pipeline and regulatory update Novartis completed a series of significant regulatory submissions during the first quarter and made progress in expanding its pipeline through internal development as well as new partnerships. Submissions completed in the first quarter were applications for Galvus (type 2 diabetes) and Rasilez (hypertension) in the US as well as in Europe for Exforge (hypertension), Sebivo (hepatitis B) and Lucentis (age-related macular degeneration). Submissions for Galvus and Rasilez in Europe remain on track for completion in 2006.

Among the recent developments:

* Galvus[1] (vildagliptin), an innovative oral therapy for type 2 diabetes, was accepted for US regulatory review in March 2006. Submission for European approval is on track for 2006. This innovative compound has a novel mechanism of action that targets pancreatic islet dysfuntion. In clinical studies, Galvus has demonstrated a significant reduction in blood sugar over one year. Galvus is suitable for once-daily dosing and has been evaluated both as monotherapy and in co-administration with other anti-diabetes agents. Galvus has not been associated with overall weight gain, a key benefit for people with type 2 diabetes who struggle to keep their weight under control. Additional data on Galvus is planned to be presented at the American Diabetes Association meeting in June.

* Rasilez[1] (aliskiren), the first in a new class of oral anti-hypertension agents called renin inhibitors, was accepted for US regulatory review in April 2006. Submission for EU approval remains planned for 2006. Data presented at the American College of Cardiology meeting in March confirmed the efficacy and safety of Rasilez in lowering blood pressure and sustaining this effect over a 24-hour dosing interval. Rasilez is being developed as a monotherapy and in co-administration with other anti-hypertensive agents. Further data on Rasilez is expected to be presented at the American Society of Hypertension (ASH) meeting in May.

* Exforge[1], a one-tablet combination of the calcium channel blocker amlodipine and the angiotensin receptor blocker valsartan, was submitted for EU approval in March, while the US submission is planned for 2006. Exforge has been shown in clinical trials to provide powerful blood pressure control with excellent safety and tolerability. Novartis is seeking approval for Exforge for use in patients whose blood pressure is not adequately controlled on existing therapy and as replacement for patients taking amlodipine and valsartan as separate tablets.

* AMN107 (nilotinib) remains on track for US and EU submission in early 2007. The Phase II registration study for Gleevec-resistant patients achieved full enrollment in chronic phase Philadelphia-chromosome positive (Ph+) chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) patients, with enrollment in accelerated phase and blast crisis ongoing.

* The in-licensing of compounds from Infinity Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and SGX Pharmaceuticals continued to strengthen the early-stage oncology pipeline. The alliance with Infinity added a new class of compounds targeting Bcl-2 protein family members for a broad range of cancer indications. An agreement with SGX further strengthened the position of Novartis in chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) with new active compounds against wild-type and drug-resistant BCR-ABL mutants, including the most challenging T315I mutant.

* FTY720 (fingolimod), an oral once-daily treatment for relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS), is currently in Phase III development. Discussions are continuing with the FDA on starting a Phase III study in the US. Data from an extension of a Phase II trial to 18 months presented in April confirmed the substantial efficacy of FTY720 in significantly reducing the relapse rate and inflammatory disease activity of patients with this disease.

* Novartis has signed a licensing agreement with Servier for agomelatine, a Phase III compound for treatment of major depressive disorder. This once daily oral treatment has a novel mechanism of action and is a potential innovation for depression.

* QAB149 (indacaterol), a novel inhaled long-acting beta-2 agonist that provides sustained 24-hour bronchodilation with rapid onset of action, is expected to begin Phase III trials in 2006 in both asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). However, the start has been delayed from the first quarter following technical issues with the planned inhalation device. Novartis is committed to the development of QAB149 as a once-daily maintenance therapy for bronchodilation in patients with asthma and COPD.

* Aclasta[1] (zoledronic acid 5 mg), currently approved in over 40 countries for use in the treatment of Paget's disease of the bone, received a second US "approvable letter" for this indication. The FDA requested additional data from the ongoing clinical trial program in osteoporosis. US approval for Paget's disease is expected by the end of 2006, with EU and US submissions for use as a once-yearly therapy in osteoporosis still expected in 2007.

* Prexige[1] (lumiracoxib) for treatment of osteoarthritis and acute pain, demonstrated a strong performance in Brazil, its first launch market, becoming the top prescribed selective COX-2 inhibitor among rheumatologists. Prexige has also performed well following launch in the UK in December 2005. EU regulatory re-submission is planned for 2006 and US submission planned for 2007.

* Sebivo[1] (telbivudine) was submitted for approval in the EU and China during the first quarter following a US submission in December 2005. New data from a Phase III trial in Chinese patients with chronic hepatitis B presented in March showed that Sebivo provided both superior antiviral and clinical efficacy in Chinese patients with this disease after one year of use versus the commonly used treatment lamivudine.

* Novartis acquired in the first quarter the rights to valopicitabine (NM283) from Idenix for treatment of hepatitis C, a condition estimated to affect more than 170 million people worldwide and a major cause of liver disease.

* Lucentis[1] (ranibizumab), seeking to become the new gold standard for the treatment of "wet" AMD (age-related macular degeneration), was submitted for EU, Swiss and Australian approval during the first quarter. These submissions follow positive one-year clinical data on the efficacy and safety of Lucentis from two pivotal Phase III trials (MARINA and ANCHOR) that demonstrated the ability of Lucentis to maintain or improve for the first time vision in nearly all patients treated. Genentech retains the rights to develop and market this product in the US and Canada.

* Based on results from two Phase III trials, Novartis has stopped the development of Sandostatin in diabetic retinopathy.


Financial income, net Net financial income amounted to USD 50 million, up 11% from USD 45 million in the year-ago quarter despite acquisitions that have reduced average net liquidity to USD 3.2 billion from USD 7.1 billion in the 2005 period. The overall return on net liquidity was 6.3% versus 2.4% in the year-ago quarter, principally due to currency gains and the positive effect of repaying certain relatively high-interest bonds in late 2005.

Result from associated companies Associated companies generated a net contribution of USD 104 million in the first quarter compared to USD 33 million in the year-ago quarter. The 44% investment in Chiron contributed income of USD 33 million against a loss of USD 3 million in the year-ago period. The investment in Roche provided income of USD 66 million compared to USD 35 million in the year-ago period. This amount consists of an anticipated USD 80 million share from Roche's net income for the 2006 first quarter and a positive adjustment of USD 13 million for Roche's actual 2005 results, which was reduced by USD 27 million in charges related to amortization of intangible assets.

Balance sheet The Group's equity increased by USD 0.6 billion to USD 33.8 billion at March 31, 2006, compared with USD 33.2 billion at the end of 2005. This increase came from first-quarter net income of USD 2.0 billion and additional actuarial gains from defined benefit plans of USD 0.3 billion as well as translation gains of USD 0.2 billion and other net equity increases of USD 0.1 billion. These were partially offset by a dividend payment of USD 2.0 billion.

Net liquidity rose to USD 3.0 billion, an increase of USD 0.5 billion compared to the end of 2005, due principally to a significantly increased free cash flow of USD 0.4 billion. As a result, the debt/equity ratio at March 31, 2006, fell to 0.24:1 from 0.25:1 at December 31, 2005.

Novartis did not repurchase shares in the 2006 first quarter through its share repurchase program via a second trading line on the SWX Swiss Exchange.

Novartis is one of the few non-financial companies worldwide to have attained the highest credit ratings from Standard & Poor's, Moody's and Fitch, the three benchmark rating agencies. S&P has rated Novartis as AAA for long-term maturities and as A1+ for short-term maturities. Moody's has rated the Group as Aaa and P1, respectively, while Fitch has rated Novartis as AAA for long-term maturities and as F1+ for short-term maturities.

Cash flow Cash flow from operating activities increased by USD 0.9 billion in the 2006 first quarter to USD 2.1 billion, reflecting the business expansion and strict management of working capital by the divisions. Cash flow used for investing activities includes the proceeds of USD 0.2 billion from the Nutrition & Santé divestment. Free cash flow after dividends for the first three months of 2006 was USD 0.4 billion, an increase of USD 0.6 billion over the year-earlier period principally due to the increase in cash flow from operating activities. Disclaimer This release contains certain forward-looking statements relating to the Group's business, which can be identified by the use of forward-looking statements relating to the Group's business, which can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology such as "confident", "expected", "will", "committed", "outlook", "on track", "planned", "potential", "seeking to become", "could be", or similar expressions, or by express or implied discussions regarding potential future sales of new or existing products, potential new products, or potential new indications for existing products, or by other discussions of strategy, plans or intentions. Such statements reflect the current views of management with respect to future events and are subject to certain risks, uncertainties and assumptions. There can be no guarantee that any products, or the Group as a whole, will reach any particular sales levels, or that any new products will be approved for sale in any market, or that any new indications will be approved for existing products in any market. In particular, management's expectations could be affected by, among other things, uncertainties involved in the development of new pharmaceutical products, including unexpected clinical trial results; unexpected regulatory actions or delays or government regulation generally; the Group's ability to obtain or maintain patent or other proprietary intellectual property protection; competition in general; government, industry, and general public pricing pressures and other risks and factors referred to in the Group's current Form 20-F on file with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Should one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize, or should underlying assumptions prove incorrect, actual results may vary materially from those described herein as anticipated, believed, estimated or expected. Novartis is providing the information in this press release as of this date and does not undertake any obligation to update any forward-looking statements contained in this press release as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

About Novartis Novartis AG (NYSE: NVS) is a world leader in offering medicines to protect health, cure disease and improve well-being. Our goal is to discover, develop and successfully market innovative products to treat patients, ease suffering and enhance the quality of life. Novartis is the only company with leadership positions in both patented and generic pharmaceuticals. We are strengthening our medicine-based portfolio, which is focused on strategic growth platforms in innovation-driven pharmaceuticals, high-quality and low-cost generics, human vaccines and leading self-medication OTC brands. In 2005, the Group's businesses achieved net sales of USD 32.2 billion and net income of USD 6.1 billion. Approximately USD 4.8 billion was invested in R&D. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis Group companies employ approximately 96,000 people and operate in over 140 countries around the world. For more information, please visit http://www.novartis.com.

Further Important Dates July 17, 2006 Second quarter 2006 results October 19, 2006 Third quarter 2006 results


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