Washington, D.C. 20549

                                    FORM 6-K

                        REPORT OF FOREIGN PRIVATE ISSUER
                     PURSUANT TO RULE 13a-16 or 15d-16 UNDER
                       THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

                     Report on Form 6-K dated March 12, 2004
                          (Commission File No. 1-15024)


                                   Novartis AG
                              (Name of Registrant)

                                 Lichtstrasse 35
                                   4056 Basel

                    (Address of Principal Executive Offices)


Indicate by check mark whether the registrant files or will file annual reports
under cover of Form 20-F or Form 40-F:

                          Form 20-F: |X| Form 40-F: |_|

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is submitting the Form 6-K in paper as
permitted by Regulation S-T Rule 101(b)(1):

                                Yes: |_| No: |X|

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is submitting the Form 6-K in paper as
permitted by Regulation S-T Rule 101(b)(7):

                                Yes: |_| No: |X|

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant by furnishing the information
contained in this form is also thereby furnishing the information to the
Commission pursuant to Rule 12g3-2(b) under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

                                Yes: |_| No: |X|

Enclosure:        Press release, dated March 12, 2004

                                                 Novartis International AG
                                                 Novartis Global Communications
                                                 CH-4002 Basel

                                                 Internet Address:

                                                 Nehl Horton
                                                 Novartis Global Media Relations
                                                 Tel + 41 61 324 2200


Novartis responds to request by French market authority

Basel, 12 March, 2004 - Responding to a request by AMF, the French market
authority, Novartis AG confirms they are exploring the feasibility of a
combination with Aventis. No decision has been taken yet whether or not to
pursue such a transaction.

Novartis AG (NYSE: NVS) is a world leader in pharmaceuticals and consumer
health. In 2003, the Group's businesses achieved sales of USD 24.9 billion and a
net income of USD 5.0 billion. The Group invested approximately USD 3.8 billion
in R&D. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis Group companies employ
about 78,500 people and operate in over 140 countries around the world.

This release contains certain "forward-looking statements" relating to the
Group's business, intentions or expectations. Such statements reflect the
current views of the Group with respect to future events and are subject to
certain risks, uncertainties and assumptions. There can be no guarantee
regarding the existence or nonexistence of any major acquisitions in the future.
Many factors can cause actual events to be materially different from the Group's
current intentions or expectations.

For further information please consult


         Pursuant to the requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934,
Novartis AG has duly caused this report to be signed on its behalf by the
undersigned, thereunto duly authorized.

                                             NOVARTIS AG

Date: March 12, 2004                         By:  /s/ GEORGE MILLER

                                             Name:    George Miller
                                             Title:   Deputy General Counsel

                                             By:  /s/ MALCOLM CHEETHAM

                                             Name:    Malcolm Cheetham
                                             Title:   Chief Accounting Officer