Chapter 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 Gleevec, developed to treat a form of cancer called chronic myelogenous leukemia, or CML.1

At the time, there were about forty thousand known CML sufferers ...

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