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Novartis Unveils CareCard(SM) Drug Discount Program to Aid Needy Elderly Who Lack Prescription Drug Coverage.

* Plan Aims To Provide Financial Assistance to Seniors in Need

* Company Supports Industry-wide "Call to Action"

EAST HANOVER, N.J., Nov. 7 /PRNewswire/ --

Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation announced today a valuable discount program called the Novartis CareCard(SM). Scheduled for official launch in January of 2002, the CareCard is designed to make prescriptions more affordable for low-income elderly who lack drug coverage. An estimated 10 million Americans are expected to qualify for the CareCard. Novartis also issued an industry-wide call to action, encouraging other pharmaceutical companies to create programs to deliver real value to the low-income elderly.

"Novartis is committed to helping elderly low-income patients obtain their medications in a timely, affordable manner," said Daniel Vasella, MD, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Novartis AG. "Our goal with the Novartis CareCard is to provide a nationwide discount program which helps assure that medicines reach elderly patients who need them but who cannot afford them. If each company were to undertake a program similar to ours, there could be a cost savings of $100 billion over the next decade, for the most needy, elderly Americans."

While the elderly currently represent approximately 12.6% of the population, fully 38% of all prescriptions are written for this group. An estimated one-third of community-based seniors lack drug coverage and are facing mounting prescription costs, as traditional sources of coverage (i.e., employers and HMOs) are eliminating and reducing benefits and increasingly shifting costs to patients.

"We hope the Novartis CareCard serves as a foundation for cooperation between the pharmaceutical industry and federal government to provide low-income elderly Americans the comprehensive access to medicines they need and deserve," said Paulo Costa, Chief Executive Officer, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation. "We would welcome a federal government initiative which includes supplemental coverage, limiting to a reasonable amount the maximum exposure for annual drug costs among low-income elderly."

The CareCard will use an administrative infrastructure managed by an independent third party to serve as a viable foundation for other pharmaceutical companies to integrate their own programs. Pharmacy retailers will be the primary means for program enrollment and prescription delivery. Given pharmacists' expertise and frequent patient contact, Novartis envisions their playing a critical role to enhance the effectiveness of the program.

"Novartis is offering an innovative solution in working with the federal government in our efforts to make prescription medicines more accessible to those seniors who cannot afford them," said Tommy G. Thompson, Secretary of Health and Human Services. "Moving forward, it will be necessary for the Administration, the Congress, and the private sector to work together to formulate a more comprehensive solution to this challenging problem."

How the Novartis CareCard Program Works

The Novartis CareCard will be available free of charge. It will provide a discount of 25% off the wholesale list price. This should translate to patient savings of between 30-40% off of retail prices. Individuals will qualify if they are age 65 or over, with an annual income of less than 300 % of the Federal Poverty Level (approximately $26,000 for an individual; $35,000 for a couple) who do not currently have alternative prescription drug coverage. This target population includes approximately 80 % of Medicare enrollees who lack coverage, or about 10 million people. Those interested in learning more about the Novartis CareCard can call 1-866-974-CARE (2273), or log on to the Novartis website ( The program will be officially launched on January 1, 2002. The program will cover all Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation outpatient prescription products.(1)

The Novartis list of products includes key products for diseases affecting the senior population, such as Diovan(R) (valsartan) (for high blood pressure), Exelon(R) (rivastigmine tartrate for Alzheimer's), Lamisil Oral(R) (terbinafine hydrochloride tablets for fungal infections), Lescol(R) (fluvastatin sodium for high cholesterol), Lotensin(R) (benazapril hydrochloride for high blood pressure), Lotrel(R) (amlodipine and benazepril hydrochloride for high blood pressure), and Miacalcin Nasal Spray(R) (calcitonin salmon for osteoporosis). Novartis Pharmaceuticals is also working with other Novartis healthcare companies to consider ways of expanding the program.

For example, in a sample of pharmacy retailers, the average price to consumers for a 3-month supply of Diovan was $155. In this particular sample, CareCard would deliver savings on Diovan of $41, or 30% of the average price, resulting in a net price to consumer of $98.

Novartis has demonstrated a long-standing commitment to providing our medications to patients in need of financial assistance. Our patient assistance program will continue to provide support for selected key products and the CareCard program supplements our efforts by specifically targeting low-income seniors and encompassing a broader product portfolio.

Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation is an affiliate of Novartis AG (NYSE: NVS), a world leader in healthcare with core businesses in pharmaceuticals, consumer health, generics, eye-care, and animal health.

(1) Hospital products that are already covered by Medicare are excluded,

as are selected specialty products already covered by Novartis access


For full prescribing information for products listed in the press release visit our website at: .

For further information please contact:

Kathy Bloomgarden



Greg Baird


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Date:Nov 7, 2001
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