Signing of Memorandum of Understanding for advanced production center for biosimilars at Lek in Lendava

  • Today, the Minister for the Economy, Tourism and Sport of the Republic of Slovenia, Matjaž Han, and the President of the Management Board of Lek d.d. and Sandoz Country President, Robert Ljoljo, signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the construction of a high-tech production center for biosimilars at Lek in Lendava, in the presence of the Prime Minister, Robert Golob, PhD, and the President of the Management Board of Sandoz, Richard Saynor.   
  • This will be the largest single  investment in Lek's history and one of the largest ever in the Slovenian economy, amounting to at least USD 400 million. 
  • Production with low environmental impact will be based on sustainable principles and is expected to start at the  end of 2026.  
  • 300 new jobs are foreseen, including highly qualified professionals.     
9. 3. 2023

The investment in a high-tech production center for biosimilars is the largest single investment in Lek's history and is also one of the largest ever in the Slovenian economy. Lek and the Lendava site will strengthen their position within Sandoz and expand the range of high value added products. In doing so, they will also contribute to the implementation of the European medicines strategy. It is based on increasing the competitiveness, innovation and sustainability of the European pharmaceutical industry by developing and producing high-quality, safe, effective and environmentally sustainable medicines that are available and affordable.

Slovenian scientists were among the pioneers in the field of biologics, the most modern branch of pharmacy. Three decades ago, in the early 1990s, Lek, in close collaboration with the Institute of Chemistry, started to work on recombinant technology, which is fundamental to biopharmaceuticals. Lek subsequently made a significant contribution to Sandoz's global leadership in the biosimilars segment.

At the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia, Robert Golob, PhD, said: ''Slovenia today is a politically stable, orderly and attractive country in all respects. We have a resilient and predictable economic environment, a skilled and highly educated workforce, an excellent geostrategic location and well-developed infrastructure. The decision of the world's leading biosimilars manufacturer to choose Slovenia for an investment worth at least USD 400 million demonstrates just that. I am particularly pleased that this is an investment by a long-term strategic investor, a socially responsible and sustainable company, which is already one of the largest and most respected employers in Slovenia. With such investments, we are well on our way to a highly productive, competitive and green economy."

The President of the Management Board of Sandoz, Richard Saynor, highlighted Lek's extensive knowledge and more than 75 years of tradition in pharmaceutical manufacturing, as well as the growing demand for biosimilars in the world. He noted: ''Biosimilars increase access to cutting-edge biological therapies for patients who need them most. At Sandoz, we are determined to continue our leadership role in promoting access to these essential medicines. This investment underlines our efforts to be a leading sustainable player in biosimilars internationally – a pharmaceutical field that is expected to enjoy growth at a double-digit annual rate over the next decade. ''

Robert Ljoljo, President of the Management Board of Lek d.d. and Sandoz Country President Slovenia, emphasized the importance of pharmaceutical know-how and talent, as well as the top quality of processes that are at home in Slovenia and Pomurje, adding: ''I am convinced that the Lendava site will also be very successful in the field of high-tech biopharmaceutical production of large molecules. In doing so, it will have the full support of an internal environment geared towards continuous improvement and achieving the highest quality of processes and management of sustainability aspects. We are pleased to have the confidence of Sandoz and the support of the Government. I would like to thank our key stakeholders and excellent partners, the local community, research and education institutions, professional and industry organizations for their good cooperation.

Sandoz, the world's leading manufacturer of generic and biosimilar medicines, will spend at least USD 400 million on biopharmaceutical production in Lendava. Work is expected to start this year. The low-impact production center is scheduled to be fully operational by the end of 2026. Three hundred (300) new jobs are foreseen, including highly specialized professionals.

Did you know?

  • Biosimilars contribute to the sustainability of healthcare budgets. The savings they generate allow them to focus on innovative products and improve the lives of even more patients.
  • The first biosimilar approved by the European Medicines Agency in 2006 was Omnitrope by Sandoz. The first biological medicinal product was authorized for marketing in Slovenia in 2008. Currently, 8 biosimilars are available to Slovenian patients in the therapeutic areas of immunology, oncology and endocrinology.
  • Biopharmaceuticals are manufactured according to standards that demand exceptional purity.
  • The DS Bioproduction unit at the Novartis Mengeš site is the first industrial center for modern recombinant technology in Slovenia, and last year, it received the Finance Sustainable Factory of the Year Award.
  • In addition to digitized processes, biopharmaceutical production is characterized by low waste and very low air emissions, slightly higher electricity consumption and simple and efficient wastewater treatment processes, which is why it is also referred to as 'clean production'.

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Novartis is the leading provider of medicines in Slovenia, where Lek d.d., Novartis Pharma Services Inc. and Sandoz d.d., 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 Operations, Global DrugDevelopment 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. Novartis invested in Slovenia more than EUR 3.4 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 major therapeutic areas, accounted for 2022 sales of USD 9.2 billion.

About Novartis
Novartis is reimagining medicine to improve and extend people’s lives. We deliver high-value medicines that alleviate society’s greatest disease burdens through technology leadership in R&D and novel access approaches. In our quest to find new medicines, we consistently rank among the world’s top companies investing in research and development. About 106,000 people of more than 140 nationalities work together to bring Novartis products to nearly 800 million people around the world. Find out more at

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This press release contains statements and forecasts of future business operations. The forecasts include estimates based on all the information currently available to us. Should these forecasts prove unreliable, the actual results of business operations could be different from those expected.

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For further information, please contact:
Gregor  Makuc
Head Corporate Affairs
Lek Pharmaceuticals d.d.
Telephone: 01 580 22 43