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Novartis Names Merck Executive Strigini As Oncology Business Head

Swiss drug giant Novartis AG (NVS) said Sunday that it has appointed a senior executive of Merck & Co. (MRK), Bruno Strigini, as president of its oncology business, Novartis Oncology. His appointment is with immediate effect.

Novartis said in mid-January that Herve Hoppenot resigned as president of Novartis Oncology to pursue a career opportunity outside of the organization. At that time, the company appointed Alessandro Riva as president of Novartis Oncology on an interim basis, until a successor was found for Hoppenot who has led the oncology business since 2010.

Strigini most recently served as president for Merck's Europe/Canada operations, a region comprising 37 countries with over 10,000 associates. He has 25 years of experience in pharmaceuticals, animal health, OTC and vaccines, having led in both international and local roles.

During his career, Strigini has held increasingly senior executive positions in a number of companies, such as Schering-Plough, UCB-Celltech and SmithKline Beecham.

Strigini is a member of the Executive Committee for the European Federation of
Pharmaceutical Industries & Associations or EFPIA, as well as a member of the
Academie Nationale de Pharmacie in France.

Novartis said in April that it agreed to acquire the oncology business of GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK, GSK.L) for $14.5 billion and up to $1.5 billion contingent milestone. The company also said it will divest Vaccines, excluding flu, to GSK, for $7.1 billion. The deal with GSK is expected to close during the first half of 2015.

In a separate statement, Novartis said that data from a pivotal mid-stage study of its investigational compound LDE225 showed marked tumor responses in advanced basal cell carcinoma. The company revealed the data at the 50th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology or ASCO in Chicago.

According to Novartis, the Phase II study met the primary endpoint with objective response rates of 41.8 percent and 32.5 percent respectively in the 200 mg and 800 mg treatment arms. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer and can be highly disfiguring at advanced stages and life-threatening when metastatic.

NVS closed Friday's trading at $90.06, down $0.10 or 0.11 percent on a volume of 4.09 million shares.

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