Novartis Vaccines & Diagnostics, Inc. Launches National Gift-Giving Program

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Oct. 3 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- For the first time, consumers can take an active role in protecting their family, friends and community from influenza with the Novartis Vaccines FluGram(TM) gift card. Launching nationally, the FluGram(TM) program helps make influenza vaccination more convenient and accessible. This gift-giving program allows people to purchase cards for themselves or as a gift of health for loved ones. The card secures an influenza vaccination for the card recipient to redeem during the influenza season.

Card holders can visit one of the designated community pharmacies to receive their influenza vaccination from a qualified health professional. FluGram(TM) gift cards will be available while supplies of the card last. Price will vary by store.

"We are pleased to offer FluGram(TM), a one-of-a-kind vaccination gift- giving program, at participating community pharmacies throughout the country," said Rajiv De Silva, President of Novartis Vaccines in the US. "We at Novartis Vaccines believe that caring begins with prevention and we are committed to educating and protecting as many Americans from influenza as possible by making influenza vaccination easy and accessible."

Unlike the common cold, influenza, or "the flu," is a respiratory disease with potentially serious complications. An average of 36,000 US residents die each year from influenza and its complications, which is more than double the 17,000 Americans who die annually from AIDS, similar to the 42,000 Americans who die each year from breast cancer, and half the 73,000 Americans who die annually of diabetes and its complications. On average, up to 20 percent of the United States population contracts influenza and suffers from its symptoms, which may include fever, headache, extreme tiredness, cough and body aches, for up to two weeks every year.

The good news for Americans is that influenza is a preventable disease, and receiving an annual influenza vaccination, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is the best defense against contracting this contagious virus. Influenza vaccination is recommended for all persons who want to reduce the risk of becoming ill with influenza or transmitting influenza to others.

"Each year many people cannot access immunizations or choose not to get vaccinated against influenza," said Mitchel C. Rothholz, RPh, MBA, Chief of Staff, American Pharmacists Association. "Protecting against influenza is critical for those considered at increased risk for complications, such as the elderly and young children, as well as those in close contact with them who can easily spread this disease. I believe programs that increase consumer access to immunizations and educate them about the value of influenza vaccination can help individuals protect themselves, and their community. Programs like FluGram(TM) help consumers take advantage of the opportunity."

How FluGram(TM) Works

The gift of health now comes in a card. FluGram(TM) gift cards can be purchased at participating community pharmacies and are valid to all card holders who redeem the card while supplies last. Eligible children must be accompanied by an adult. Gift card holders can get their vaccination by attending an influenza vaccination clinic at one of the participating community pharmacies. Vaccinations will be administered by qualified health professionals in the designated community pharmacy. For more information on how to help prevent influenza, please visit

About FluGram(TM)

FluGram(TM) is sponsored by Novartis Vaccines. Novartis Vaccines is committed to offering the best healthcare options. Influenza vaccine is a regulated product; its availability may be restricted or curtailed. The FluGram(TM) Influenza Vaccination Program will comply with all national, state, and local health regulations.

Influenza vaccination may not prevent the disease in 100 percent of individuals. Persons should consult their healthcare provider to determine if they have a condition that precludes them from receiving the vaccine. All vaccines have side effects. The most common side effects of influenza vaccines include local reactions and mild general symptoms.

About Influenza

Influenza is a contagious disease of the respiratory tract (nose, throat, and lungs) that can lead to serious complications, such as pneumonia and dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes. Influenza can easily spread from person to person.

In fact, adults can spread the influenza virus beginning one day before they feel sick and continue to be contagious for five days after symptoms start.

Many people confuse influenza with the common cold, but, in fact, it is potentially a much more serious illness. An average of 36,000 US residents die from influenza and its complications annually. In addition, each year more than 200,000 people are hospitalized in the US as a result of influenza and its complications.

Influenza vaccination is recommended for people, including school-age children, who want to reduce the likelihood of becoming ill with influenza or transmitting influenza to others should they become infected.

Getting vaccinated against influenza helps protect those around you including those who may be at higher risk for complications. The elderly and young children are just two of the groups considered at increased risk for complications from influenza.

Influenza vaccination can be given to anyone over the age of six months (influenza vaccines are not currently approved for children under six months of age).

Although October and November are the recommended months for vaccination, a vaccination given later in the season (December through March) can still help protect you from influenza.

For more information about preventing influenza, visit


The foregoing release contains forward-looking statements that can be identified by terminology such as "can", or similar expressions, or by express or implied discussions regarding the FluGram(TM) program, the number of community pharmacies that will participate in the program, the number of influenza vaccination clinics to be held by participating pharmacies, the price, number and availability of FluGram(TM) gift cards to purchased by consumers and the recommended months for influenza vaccination. Such forward- looking statements reflect the current views of the Company 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 of the number of community pharmacies that will participate in the FluGram(TM) program, how many clinics participating pharmacies will hold, the price, number or availability of FluGram(TM) gift cards to be purchased by consumers or the months during which the giving of an influenza vaccination can protect against influenza. Nor can there be any guarantee that sales of FluGram(TM) gift cards will achieve any particular levels of revenue in the future. In particular, management's expectations regarding sales of FluGram(TM) gift cards could be affected by, among other things, unexpected regulatory actions or delays or government regulation generally; unexpected delays or inefficiencies in influenza vaccine production; the company's ability to obtain or maintain patent or other proprietary intellectual property protection; competition in general; government, industry and general public pricing pressures, 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

Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics is a division of Novartis focused on the development of preventive treatments. The division has two businesses: Novartis Vaccines and Chiron. Novartis Vaccines is the world's fifth-largest vaccines manufacturer and second-largest supplier of flu vaccines in the US. The division's products also include meningococcal, pediatric and travel vaccines. Chiron, the blood testing and molecular diagnostics business, is dedicated to preventing the spread of infectious diseases through the development of novel blood-screening tools that protect the world's blood supply.

Novartis AG is a world leader in offering medicines to protect health, cure disease and improve well-being. Our goal is to discover, develop and successfully market innovative products to treat patients, ease suffering and enhance the quality of life. We are strengthening our medicine-based portfolio, which is focused on strategic growth platforms in innovation-driven pharmaceuticals, high-quality and low-cost generics, human vaccines and leading self-medication OTC brands. Novartis is the only company with leadership positions in these areas. In 2006, the Group's businesses achieved net sales of USD 37.0 billion and net income of USD 7.2 billion. Approximately USD 5.4 billion was invested in R&D. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis Group companies employ more than 100,000 associates and operate in over 140 countries around the world. For more information, please visit or

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CONTACT: Beth Birke, Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics, Global
Communications, +1-617-871-4281,

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