Strong Results of Lek in 2003 Drive Growth for Sandoz,

Dr. Vasella highlights important role of Lek in global development network of Sandoz

5. 3. 2004

Novartis Chairman & CEO, Dr. Daniel Vasella, discussed the importance of Lek as a cornerstone in the global development network for generic medicines at a meeting held today at Lek’s headquarters. Lek is part of Sandoz, Novartis’ generic business and the world’s second largest generic medicine company in the world.

“On the eve of it’s entry into the EU, we believe Lek is a great example of a Slovenian company that has transformed itself from an important local company into a global center of excellence for one of the world’s leading generic medicines companies,” said Dr. Vasella. “Lek’s long-term commitment to building strong competence in intellectual property as well as technical and engineering expertise led, in part, to their success in achieving outstanding business results in 2003.”

Lek made a major contribution to the success of Sandoz, Novartis’ generic business in 2003. Sandoz’ (+60%; 47% in local currency) full-year sales were driven by the U.S. retail pharmaceuticals business and the successful integration of Lek.

In 2003, Lek created 300 new jobs, including 50 R&D positions, as the company continues to build competence in the areas of pharmaceutical formulations, active pharmaceutical ingredients and biopharmaceutical products.

“Successful growth allows for continued investment, which is leading to the creation of a new biopharmaceutical plant in Mengeš, Slovenia, as well as the creation of new solid dosage pharmaceutical plants in Poland and Romania,” added Dr. Vasella.

“We are committed to Slovenia and to Lek and we continue to see Slovenia as an attractive market for foreign investment, based on the country’s dynamic growth, low inflation and adoption of international legal standards,” continued Dr. Vasella.

Sandoz, a Novartis company, is a world leader in generic pharmaceuticals and develops, manufactures and markets these medicines as well as pharmaceutical and biotechnological active ingredients. Decades of experience and profound know-how make Sandoz a renowned partner in the Pharmaceuticals, Biopharmaceuticals and Industrial Products Franchises. Altogether, Sandoz employs approximately 13,000 people worldwide and posted sales of USD 2.9 billion in 2003.

Novartis AG (NYSE: NVS) is a world leader in pharmaceuticals and consumer health. In 2003, the Group’s business 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. For further information, please consult

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 further details contact Katarina Klemenc Dinjaški, Corporate Communications at Lek, + 386 1 580 22 43,