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The stake accounts for 6 per cent of the overall shares and one third of the voting shares. According to the paper, Novartis wants to take bids from select investors to make sure that the buyers would be acceptable to Roche.
Novartis’ first-quarter core net income fell by 13 per cent. The result is attributed to expired patents, a decrease in the sales of eye-care subsidiary Alcon and the unsuccessful launch of its new heart medicine Entresto.
Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Roche operates in biotech, cancer drugs, and personalised healthcare. Roche Pharma established its presence in Vietnam with the opening of its representative office in Ho Chi Minh City in 1994 and in Hanoi in 1995. It sells pharmaceuticals to treat a range of diseases, including cancer, hepatitis, anaemia, and rheumatoid arthritis. The company’s sales of pharmaceutical products are restricted, as is the case with all foreign companies operating in the sector in Vietnam. They are not allowed to directly distribute their products, instead having to sell through Vietnamese distributors.
In 2012, Roche Diagnostics received the investment certificate to become a 100 per cent foreign-owned limited company in Vietnam. The license enabled the company to increase cooperation with government agencies and partners as well as to import and distribute equipment and chemicals used in diagnosis.
In the first quarter of 2016, the Asia–Pacific recorded the second highest growth in sales among regions where Roche’s diagnostics division operates, with 16 per cent, wading only behind Latin America’s 21 per cent, and running rings around the whole division’s growth of 5 per cent. The region also drove growth in the sale of Avastin, a drug for advanced colorectal, breast, lung, kidney, cervical, and ovarian cancer and glioblastoma (a type of brain tumour), with 29 per cent, compared to the drug’s overall sales growth of 4 per cent.
Novartis has two representative offices in Vietnam, one in Hanoi, one in Ho Chi Minh City. The Novartis portfolio in Vietnam includes innovative pharmaceuticals, high-quality generics from Sandoz, and cutting-edge eye care solutions from Alcon. In August 2015 its generics division Sandoz signed a distribution agreement with Vietnamese drug company Traphaco.
Vietnam is considered a market harbouring great potential for pharmaceutical companies due to the underdeveloped state of the public health sector characterised by overcrowded hospitals and patients with limited access to advanced medical treatment. Fast Market Research said the country’s spending of pharmaceuticals nearly touched the $4.2 billion mark in 2015, up from $3.8 billion in 2014, with overall healthcare spending at $11.7 billion in 2015.
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