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The Momentum Effect by Jean Claude Larreche

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3

The road to momentum

Vasella’s eureka moment

What does it take to make a CEO jump? Dr. Daniel Vasella, chairman of Novartis, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical firms, found out in April 1999 when he was handed a report on a new drug developed by his oncology division. The results before his eyes were better than good – they were sensational. Vasella knew this drug would make a difference, not only to his company, but to cancer patients all over the world.

The report that electrified Vasella covered the first phase of research on a product then known as STI571, later renamed Glivec, developed to treat a form of cancer called chronic myelogenous leukaemia, or CML.1

At the time, there were about 40 000 known CML sufferers worldwide, with ...

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