TOKYO, Oct 3 (Reuters) - Novartis AG said on Thursday it did not expect a scandal over the marketing of its Diovan blood pressure drug in Japan to have a significant impact on the company, but acknowledged sales of the drug had fallen.
"It is true that sales have declined somewhat," David Epstein, the head of Novartis AG's pharmaceutical division, told reporters when asked about the impact of a potential drop in sales of the drug.
"Overall Diovan is a relatively small part of our portfolio, given the breadth of the medicine that we have, so the impact should not be significant," he said.
A Japanese health ministry panel this week called for the ministry to investigate Novartis's Japanese unit, saying it may have violated the law when it cited studies based on manipulated data to promote Diovan.
Japan is an important market for Novartis, accounting for around a quarter of Diovan's global sales before the scandal.