Novartis AG plans to announce Monday that it will spend about US$100 million on a pharmaceutical research-and-development center in China to replenish its product pipeline at lower cost and open access to the Chinese market, the <i>Wall Street Journal</i> reported. The pharmaceuticals division of Novartis spent US$3.97 billion on R&D last year. The Swiss drug giant's British competitor AstraZeneca PLC announced a similar R&D investment in in May and a host of other multinational pharmaceutical companies have begun outsourcing drug research to China to take advantage of cheaper labor. In the US, total costs of a chemist doing development work can be around US$250,000 a year. In China, chemists with similar educational backgrounds sometimes cost as little as US$25,000 a year. Novartis said its researchers will begin work in a temporary facility in May while construction of its 38,000-square-meter center is slated to begin in July.