The pharmaceutical company said it would give away some drugs, such as high blood pressure treatment drugs Diovan and Lotrel, to poor Medicare recipients in advance of the government starting reimbursement for Medicare prescription drugs in 2006. A Novartis official said it would not cost the company many lost sales because poor Medicare recipients are not taking those drugs regularly, but an advocate for seniors called the move a marketing tool to lock patients into the Novartis drugs with the government paying for them in the future.

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