Sandoz launches Cholesterol lowering Drug in European Union based on Lek Expertise

11. 8. 2004

Ljubljana, August 11, 2004 – Sandoz, the generic business of Novartis, launched a generic version of pravastatin (cholesterol lowering drug) today in the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark. The product, which is a result of Lek knowledge, will be marketed through Sandoz entities on the respective markets. The launch of pravastatin is a successful alliance of Lek development, registrations, production and other key knowledge with Sandoz global sales network.

“We are pleased that we successfuly joined the results of the teamwork of Lek professionals in the fields of development of active pharmaceutical ingredient and final product, production and patent protection with the opportunities provided by Sandoz with its global presence. The product which we launched today is part of a group called statins – cholesterol lowering drugs – which is becoming one of the most important therapeutic areas for Lek,” said Lek CEO Metod Dragonja.

Sandoz will launch pravastatin in the tablet form, in 10, 20, and 40 mg dosage. Intermediate will be produced at the Sandoz factory in Kundl, and the active pharmaceutical ingredient and final product in Slovenia.

In 2003 pravastatin reached sales of USD 924 m in the EU, and USD 1.970 m in US.

Lek, a new Sandoz company, is an international pharmaceutical company which operates as a business center on the markets of Central and Eastern Europe, Southeastern Europe and the CIS region, and is important supply center for Sandoz in USA, EU and elsewhere around the world. Lek creates value through the development, manufacturing and sales of pharmaceutical products, active pharmaceutical ingredients and biopharmaceutical products. The Lek Group employs about 3850 people in various regions and achieved total sales of USD 694 million in 2003.

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.

This press release contains certain “forward-looking 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,