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Tackling coronavirus-like outbreak needs sustained govt investment: Novartis CEO

In an interview with Business Today, Narasimhan said expanding our knowledge base about such disease outbreak is important in order to take effective actions to address them

twitter-logoJoe C Mathew and twitter-logoPB Jayakumar    New Delhi     Last Updated: February 17, 2020  | 20:18 IST
Tackling coronavirus-like outbreak needs sustained govt investment: Novartis CEO
Vasant (Vas) Narasimhan, Chief Executive Officer of Novartis

Governments should invest in long-term basic research to develop effective prevention and control strategies to fight global health emergencies such as outbreak of coronavirus, suggests Vas Narasimhan, global CEO of Novartis AG.

In an interview with Business Today, Narasimhan said expanding our knowledge base about such disease outbreak is important in order to take effective actions to address them. "To contain viral and other bacterial outbreaks, you need long-term investment in basic research and new science that enable you to tackle these situations," he said.

According to him, solutions to coronavirus and similar outbreaks can be found only if we keep improving our knowledge to ensure that whenever such things happen, we rapidly find solutions. "In case of antimicrobial resistance, we need strong government policies to support people to make these antibiotics. Right now we don't have great markets for these antibiotics," he said.

"The cost of bringing a new antibiotic to market is quite high from a manufacturing and clinical standpoint. In case of virus outbreaks, we need to figure out ways to sustain investment between the outbreaks. Right now you'll see lot of investment happening because there's an outbreak. But what will happen during the years between this outbreak and the next one? How do you maintain the investment level? This is what is challenging for the policymakers," he explained.

One cannot expect companies to spearhead such research only because of commercial reasons, he points out.

"Usually it doesn't make for a great business case, especially between the two outbreaks. There's a business case only during the outbreak and it's hard to time your success around one of these moments."

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