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Novartis appoints Merck executive as oncology chief

(Reuters) - Swiss drugmaker Novartis AG said it has appointed Bruno Strigini, one of Merck & Co Inc's top executives, to head its oncology unit.

Novartis said Strigini, who served as the president of Merck's European and Canadian operations, was appointed with immediate effect. (http://link.reuters.com/tyk79v)

Strigini takes over from Alessandro Riva, who headed Novartis' Oncology Development and Medical Affairs division on an interim basis after the departure of Herve Hoppenot earlier in the year.

Novartis in April bought London-based GSK's oncology products for $14.5 billion plus another $1.5 billion that depends on the results of a trial in melanoma in a deal that strengthened the company's No. 2 global position in cancer.

Cancer is a particular focus for some drugmakers as novel medicines show promise by boosting the body's immune system. Drugmakers are seen stocking up their oncology pipelines as they bet that combinations of drugs will become the future of cancer care.

(Reporting by Aashika Jain in Bangalore; Editing by Eric Walsh)