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Novartis International AG : Novartis collaboration aims to eliminate rheumatic heart disease (RHD) in Zambia, Africa



Novartis International AG : Novartis collaboration aims to eliminate rheumatic
                    heart disease (RHD) in Zambia, Africa

Novartis International AG / Novartis collaboration aims to eliminate rheumatic
heart disease (RHD) in Zambia, Africa . Processed and transmitted by Thomson
Reuters ONE. The issuer is solely responsible for the content of this
announcement.

  * RHD has been eliminated in most developed nations, but sub-Saharan Africa
    studies show at least 2-3% of school-age children suffer from this often
    fatal disease[1]

  * Collaboration between Novartis physicians, Zambian healthcare providers,
    cardiologists from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and the
    Pan-African Cardiology Society will promote RHD prevention by treating
    children with streptococcal infections and silent RHD

  * The collaboration will screen 3,000 Zambian children by echocardiography
    and provide monthly penicillin injections to children with silent RHD to
    prevent recurrent strep throat and associated cardiac damage

Basel, Switzerland/Cambridge, MA, February 28, 2013 - Novartis today announced
that it has launched an effort to eliminate rheumatic heart disease in  Zambia 
in collaboration  with  the Lusaka  University  Teaching Hospital  (UTH),  the 
Ministry  of  Health  in  Zambia,  the  Pan-African  Cardiology  Society   and 
Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).

RHD is  a complication  of  untreated streptococcal  infections in  which  the 
valves of the heart  are scarred and eventually  degenerate, leading to  heart 
failure. Eliminated by antibiotic treatment in most developed nations, in  the 
developing  world  an   estimated  15  million   children  suffer  from   this 
debilitating and often fatal disease[1].

"The toll of heart failure  in young children with  RHD in Zambia is  immense, 
for the  patient, their  families,  and the  nation,"  said Mark  C.  Fishman, 
Cardiologist and President of the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical  Research 
(NIBR). "It is entirely preventable. For  the past several years Novartis  has 
been working with colleagues in Lusaka to help understand and treat asthma  in 
young children.  We  are  expanding  the  collaboration  to  raise  awareness, 
educate, and provide antibiotic therapy to prevent RHD."

To measure RHD prevalence and identify those in need of secondary prophylaxis,
teams of health care professionals from Lusaka UTH, the MGH, and Novartis will
use portable echocardiography machines to evaluate 3,000 children, ages  9-10, 
in Lusaka-area  public schools.  Echocardiography  screening is  estimated  to 
detect more than 10 times as many cases as clinical screening[1].

Images from the echocardiography screens will be analyzed in Zambia and at the
MGH using  a  cloud-based  electronic  registry developed  by  Dimagi  Inc,  a 
Cambridge, MA-based  company that  designs open-source  electronic  healthcare 
systems for low resource environments.

Children identified  as having  RHD will  be treated  with monthly  penicillin 
injections (termed "secondary prophylaxis") to prevent recurrent streptococcal
infections and additional valve damage.
Primary prevention, the treatment of children with streptococcal infection  to 
prevent RHD, is key to elimination of  the disease. To this end, all  children 
diagnosed with strep throat will be treated with injectable penicillin in  the 
community-based study  sites. Prevalence  of RHD  and adherence  to  secondary 
prophylaxis will be determined via the mobile electronic registry.  

"We have assembled an experienced team from  MGH who are excited to bring  the 
mobile heart  imaging technology  to Zambia,"  stated Michael  H. Picard,  MD, 
Director of Echocardiography at the Massachusetts General Hospital and a  Past 
President of  the American  Society of  Echocardiography. "We  are creating  a 
model for  country-wide screening  through schools  that will  not only  raise 
awareness of the magnitude of this disease  but also offer a simple method  to 
identify those who will benefit from a very simple and safe treatment. The MGH
Cardiology Division and its Cardiac Ultrasound Laboratory are delighted to  be 
a partner in this initiative."

The Pan-African Cardiology  Society will  assist with the  development of  the 
study protocol and  ethics approval. Based  on the experience  of the  initial 
Lusaka-based effort, Novartis plans to support the rollout of the RHD training
and treatment effort  to Provinces across  Zambia, with the  ultimate goal  of 
eliminating RHD in Zambia.

"Rheumatic heart disease is the most common acquired heart ailment in  Zambian 
children, but statistics  are spotty  and the disease  is certainly  diagnosed 
late when damage to the heart valves has already reached advanced stage," said
John Musuku, Principal  Investigator and UTH  pediatrician. "Our hope is  that 
the collaboration with Novartis will lay the foundation to detect the  disease 
early so preventative measures are instituted.  This is an effort to eradicate
the disease across Zambia in our life time."

Disclaimer
The  foregoing  release  contains  forward-looking  statements  that  can   be 
identified by  terminology  such  as  "aims,"  "eliminate,"  "will,"  "plans," 
"hope,"  "eradicate,"  or  similar  expressions,  or  by  express  or  implied 
discussions regarding  potential new  business opportunities.  You should  not 
place undue  reliance on  these  statements. Such  forward-looking  statements 
reflect the current views of  management regarding future events, and  involve 
known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause actual
results to be  materially different  from any future  results, performance  or 
achievements expressed  or  implied  by  such  statements.  There  can  be  no 
guarantee that any  such business  opportunities will develop  in the  manner, 
scale or  time frame  anticipated.  In particular,  management's  expectations 
could be affected  by, among  other things, unexpected  regulatory actions  or 
delays or government regulation generally; competition in general; government,
industry and general  public pricing pressures,  and unexpected  reimbursement 
decisions; the impact  that the  foregoing factors  could have  on the  values 
attributed to the Novartis Group's assets  and liabilities as recorded in  the 
Group's consolidated balance sheet, and other risks and factors referred to in
Novartis AG's current Form  20-F on file with  the US Securities and  Exchange 
Commission. Should one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize, or
should  underlying  assumptions  prove  incorrect,  actual  results  may  vary 
materially from those anticipated,  believed, estimated or expected.  Novartis 
is providing the information in  this press release as  of this date and  does 
not  undertake  any  obligation  to  update  any  forward-looking   statements 
contained in this press release as a result of new information, future  events 
or otherwise.

About Novartis
The  Novartis  Institutes  for  BioMedical  Research  (NIBR)  is  the   global 
pharmaceutical research organization for Novartis. NIBR's research network  is 
comprised of more than 6,000 scientists, physicians and business professionals
working together  across  more  than  ten  locations  to  discover  innovative 
medicines to treat diseases with high unmet medical need.

Headquartered in  Cambridge,  Massachusetts,  USA, NIBR  is  an  affiliate  of 
Novartis AG, which provides innovative  healthcare solutions that address  the 
evolving needs of patients and societies. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland,
Novartis offers a diversified portfolio  to best meet these needs:  innovative 
medicines, eye care, cost-saving generic pharmaceuticals, preventive  vaccines 
and diagnostic tools, over-the-counter and animal health products. Novartis is
the only global company  with leading positions in  these areas. In 2012,  the 
Group achieved net sales of USD  56.7 billion, while R&D throughout the  Group 
amounted  to  approximately  USD  9.3  billion  (USD  9.1  billion   excluding 
impairment  and  amortization  charges).   Novartis  Group  companies   employ 
approximately 128,000 full-time-equivalent associates and operate in more than
140  countries  around   the  world.  For   more  information,  please   visit 
http://www.novartis.com.

Novartis   is    on    Twitter.   Sign    up    to   follow    @Novartis    at 
http://twitter.com/novartis.

References

[1] http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa065085#t=articleTop

                                    # # #

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