Novartis Confident on 2007 Drug Approvals

Novartis CEO Daniel Vasella was upbeat about the drug maker's prospects of launching eight new drugs this year.

"At least from the eight drugs we hope to get approval for this year, one is out and I'm quite optimistic we can proceed according to our expectations for the others," Vasella told Ross Westgate at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

This week, the European Union approved Novartis' eye-disease treatment Lucentis after clinical trials proved the drug improves vision. The drug is expected to launch in Europe throughout 2007 and 2008.

But Lucentis will not necessarily be a blockbuster drug, Vasella added.

As for protecting intellectual property rights, some countries like China are cracking down on protecting patents, but other countries are trying to weaken intellectual property rights, he added.