Novartis announces donation of hydroxychloroquine to Slovenia

  • Novartis has committed to making a global donation of up to 130 million doses of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine to support efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Slovenia is one of the several countries that is receiving this donation.
  • Lek, part of Sandoz, the generics and biosimilars division of Novartis, began delivering the first doses of hydroxychloroquine to the University Medical Center Ljubljana, from where the drug will be distributed to other Slovenian hospitals that treat patients with COVID-19.
14. 4. 2020

Novartis announced the donation of a substantial amount of hydroxychloroquine to treat hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Slovenia. The aim of the donation is to enable patients to access a potential treatment while also advancing clinical research in the fight against COVID-19. The drug is at the University Medical Center Ljubljana, where it is available for treatment in Slovenian hospitals that treat patients with COVID-19.

The consignment of hydroxychloroquine donated by Novartis will continue to enable the implementation of a national treatment protocol in Slovenia for all currently hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Sandoz, the generics and biosimilars division of Novartis, has already started to deliver the first doses of the donation to Slovenia. 

The treatment protocol by the University Medical Center Ljubljana, Clinic for Infectious Diseases and Febrile Illnesses, includes hydroxychloroquine among the recommended treatments for hospitalized patients infected with COVID-19. Several clinical trials are underway to research the effect of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, a related substance, in treating COVID-19. 

This compound is used to treat malaria and auto-immune diseases such as lupus erythematosus and chronic polyarthritis. The product has not yet been approved in Europe for treating COVID-19 infections. The Slovenian regulatory authority, Agency for Medicinal Products and Medical Devices of the Republic of Slovenia, responded quickly to the treatment recommendation by the Clinic for Infectious Diseases and Febrile Illnesses at the University Medical Center Ljubljana, fast-tracking the procedure to license Sandoz’s drug for use on the Slovenian market. The license applies to the treatment of severely ill persons with the virus SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19). 

Katja Razinger, Head of Marketing and Sales in Lek, part of Sandoz, the generics and biosimilars division of Novartis, in Slovenia added: “At present, it is more important than ever that we fulfill our mission of providing primary healthcare in Slovenia. By donating this sizable quantity of hydroxychloroquine in Slovenia, we are playing our part in this by enabling patients to access a potential treatment.”

This donation given to Slovenia is part of the commitment made by Novartis to donate 130 million 200 mg doses of hydroxychloroquine globally by the end of May, subject to the condition that local regulatory authorities support the use of the drug for patients infected with COVID-19. In addition, Sandoz intends to work closely with other manufacturers to boost the production of hydroxychloroquine if required, and assist with supplying it to countries around the world. 

Novartis commitment and response to COVID-19

Novartis is deeply dedicated to the global effort to combat COVID-19 and doing our part to support the stability of global healthcare systems. We announced a broad set of measures including the creation of a global fund of USD 20 million to support communities around the world impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Novartis also has committed 130 million doses of hydroxychloroquine to support pandemic response. In addition, Novartis joined two key cross-industry research initiatives, the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator, coordinated by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome, and Mastercard, as well as a COVID-19 directed partnership organized by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI). Novartis is separately supporting COVID-19 related clinical investigations of several Novartis medicines. To support access, the Novartis generics and biosimilars division Sandoz became the first company to commit to keeping stable prices for a basket of essential medicines that may help in the treatment of COVID-19.

Novartis in Slovenia provided the Slovenian Red Cross and the Slovenian Association of Friends of Youth USD 500,000 from the Novartis’ Global Fund to support their efforts to mitigate the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to the financial donation, we have provided personal protective equipment and almost 7,000 liters of disinfectant to more than 30 health care centers, hospitals, homes for the elderly and local communities across Slovenia up to now. 

More information about the Novartis response to COVID-19 is available on; more information about adopted measures and support in Slovenia can be found at

 Information prepared: April 2020, SI2004140214

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Novartis is the leading provider of medicines in Slovenia, where Lek, Novartis Pharma Services and Sandoz, operate. Together we are building and maintaining the reputation of a dynamic, ethical, and trusted pharmaceutical company. Lek develops, manufactures, and markets effective, safe, and high quality medicines and active pharmaceutical ingredients. With our knowledge, quality, and experience we have gained an important role in Novartis' organizational structure, especially in the Novartis Technical Operations, Global Drug Development, Novartis Business Services, and the generic division Sandoz. We are the leading Sandoz development center, and one of the key development sites for technologically complex projects. We invest a great deal in the development, education, and training of our employees. Over the last eight years, the company has created more than 2,700 jobs, making us one of the biggest employers in Slovenia. Novartis invested in Slovenia more than EUR 2.5 billion since 2003. 

About Sandoz
Sandoz, a Novartis division, is a global leader in generic pharmaceuticals and biosimilars. Our purpose is to pioneer access for patients by developing and commercializing novel, affordable approaches that address unmet medical needs. Our ambition is to be the world’s leading and most valued generics company. Our broad portfolio of high-quality medicines, covering all major therapeutic areas, accounted for 2019 sales of USD 9.7 billion. Sandoz is headquartered in Holzkirchen, in Germany’s Greater Munich area.

Sandoz is on Twitter. Sign up to follow @SandozGlobal at

About Novartis
Novartis is reimagining medicine to improve and extend people’s lives. As a leading global medicines company, we use innovative science and digital technologies to create transformative treatments in areas of great medical need. In our quest to find new medicines, we consistently rank among the world’s top companies investing in research and development. Novartis products reach more than 800 million people globally and we are finding innovative ways to expand access to our latest treatments. About 109,000 people of mo

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This press release contains statements and conclusions based on projections of Lek’s future business operations. These estimates are derived from the best information currently available. In case these forecasts prove unreliable, the actual results could prove different from those projected.

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For additional information contact:
Katarina Klemenc
Corporate Communications 
Lek Pharmaceuticals d. d.
Phone: +386 1 580 22 43
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