Dr. Daniel Vasella is a Medical Doctor and currently chairman and CEO of the pharmaceutical giant Novartis International AG. He has hold the position of chairman since 1999 and has been CEO of Novartis since 1996. That makes him the first Novartis CEO since the company was created through the merger of Sandoz and Ciba-Geigy. Before the merger he was CEO of Sandoz Pharma Ltd. 
He suffered a breakdown in his thirties and consulted psychotherapy after which he gave up his profession as MD and head of a hospital and became a travelling salesman for Sandoz in New Jersey. He rose in the company and finally played an important role in the merger. His considerably younger wife is the niece of a former Sandoz chairman which led to accusations of nepotism. 
"Last year, he was named "the most influential European business leader of the last 25 years" in a poll of Financial Times readers. [...] Dr Vasella's success has brought him considerable personal wealth. In 2003, his basic salary of $ 2.2m was part of a $14.4m pay package which made him one of the best paid bosses in Europe." 
Dr. Vasella on corporate responsibility and "drugs for the poor "
From the BBC news website: ' "Profits provide freedom," he [i.e. Vasella] points out. When deciding on where to channel its R&D budgets, Dr Vasella explains, Novartis goes "medical need, but also economic need".
"I find this legitimate. It makes sense, ethically and financially."
This free market formula may work in a wealthy society, but it falls apart when it comes to the search for malaria drugs, anti-retroviral drugs or other medicines for developing world diseases, Dr Vasella acknowledges.
But that, he insists, is not merely the fault of pharmaceutical companies. Rich Western nations and corrupt governments in poor countries should also be blamed for any failure to help.
"I think it's a common responsibility," he says, insisting both Novartis and many of its competitors are pulling their weight.
For instance; Novartis and the Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development provide free treatment for all leprosy patients in the world. Malaria drugs are provided at cost via the World Health Organisation. In the US the company provides social investment to improve healthcare for some of the 36 million people without health insurance.
"Is it perfect? It is not perfect, but we also have to learn to move ahead with things that are not perfect. I think it is better to do something than nothing," Dr Vasella says.
"I think shareholders can protest if they don't like it, but you know, they don't." " 
Dr. Vasella holds a number of positions:
- member of the Board of Directors of PepsiCo Inc. 
- former member of the Board of Directors of Credit Suisse Group (stepped down in 2003 after 6 years of membership)
- member of the Supervisory Board of Siemens AG until 2003 
- member of the Chairman's Council of DaimlerChrysler 
- chairman of the International Business Leaders Advisory Council for the Mayor of Shanghai 
- member of the International Board of Governors of the Peres Center for Peace in Israel
- member of the Board of Dean's Advisors at the Harvard Business School
- president of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations