Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc. becomes a new partner of CQDM

$300,000 investment supports highly innovative research on drug discovery process

DORVAL, QC, Dec. 4, 2012 /CNW/ - Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc. has become the latest pharmaceutical company to partner in the innovative Explore program of the CQDM, with an investment of $300,000. Novartis is a significant contributor to Research & Development (R&D) in Quebec and has invested approximately 30% of its total sales in the province over the last 5 years.

The Explore program is an initiative launched in 2010 by the CQDM as way of funding unconventional and highly innovative research projects that could impact the drug discovery process. Projects funded by this program must have the potential for a breakthrough discovery that could lead to an important change in the current paradigm or conventional wisdom.

"Novartis is very pleased to be joining the CQDM and its other pharmaceutical industry partners in this very important program to encourage cutting-edge pharmaceutical research in Quebec," said Dr. Riad Sherif B., President of Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc. "The Explore program is fully compatible with the Novartis objectives to discover, develop and successfully market innovative products to prevent and cure disease, to ease suffering and to enhance quality of life."

Globally, the biopharmaceutical research model is rapidly evolving to become more efficient and to optimize resources in the very expensive and risky endeavor of drug development. Increasingly, research activity is being conducted as collaborations with companies, research institutions and governments. The CQDM is a public-private partnership created four years ago as a new means to express Quebec's leadership in biopharmaceutical research and now counts seven pharmaceutical company partners.

"We are very pleased to welcome Novartis as a partner in our Explore program to help ensure its ongoing success," said Diane Gosselin, President and CEO of CQDM. "This has rapidly become an important means for Quebec researchers with new ideas to secure funding to pursue their innovative approaches. Not every idea will succeed, however we need programs like Explore to uncover those promising ideas and to find new innovative approaches to managing disease."

About the CQDM Explore Program
The Explore Program of the CQDM is a funding initiative for breakthrough technologies that have the potential to significantly improve the drug discovery or development process. It is aimed at supporting "smaller" projects that may carry more than the usual degree of scientific risk, and reinforce the commitment of the CQDM and its pharmaceutical company members to funding disruptive research. The Explore Program is dedicated to early-concept validation and technical feasibility of creative or innovative ideas that when fully developed may address some of the most important bottlenecks faced by the pharmaceutical industry in the drug R&D process.

The Explore Program is open to the research community in Quebec from both public and private research institutions. Following an annual call for proposals, selected projects are eligible for up to $150,000 per year per project for two years. Each winning project is also assigned at least one mentor from the CQDM pharma members to ensure the commercial viability of projects and that they are aligned with industry needs. The three winning 2012 projects were announced in September.

About CQDM
CQDM is a meeting ground for all stakeholders in biopharmaceutical research. Its principal mission is to fund research projects carried out in partnership between the academic and private sectors. An innovative Canadian initiative, CQDM has a two-fold goal: to accelerate the drug discovery process and to develop safer and more effective drugs. CQDM is funded through contributions from Pfizer Canada, AstraZeneca, Merck, Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) Ltd., GlaxoSmithKline Inc., Eli Lilly Canada Inc., Novartis Pharmaceutical Canada Inc., the Business-Led Networks of Centres of Excellence (BL-NCE) and the Ministère de l'Enseignement supérieur, de la Recherche, de la Science et de la Technologie du Québec. For more information: www.cqdm.org.

About Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc.
Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc., a leader in the healthcare field, is committed to the discovery, development and marketing of innovative products to improve the well-being of all Canadians.  In 2011, the company invested close to $100 million in research and development in Canada.  Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc. employs more than 600 people in Canada.  It was named for the seventh time as one of the "50 Best Employers in Canada" for 2011. For further information, please consult www.novartis.ca.

SOURCE: Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc.

For further information:

Andrea Gilpin, Ph.D, MBA
Director, Corporate Communications
Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc.
514 631-6775 ext. 3356
andrea.gilpin@novartis.com