By Julia Werdigier

Novartis, one of Switzerland’s biggest drug makers, said Tuesday it scrapped a planned $78 million payment to its departing chairman because of pressure from shareholders and lawmakers.

Novartis said it cancelled an agreement with Daniel Vasella to pay him 72 million Swiss francs over the next six years to keep him from sharing his knowledge with competitors. The decision comes three days before the company’s board is to face investors at the annual shareholder meeting.