Lek's business success is based on in-house knowledge - Lek professionals receive prestigious award

Innovator of the Year 2003

8. 12. 2004

Ljubljana, December 8, 2004 – Today, the Slovene Chamber of Commerce, bestowed the award of Innovator of the Year 2002 to a group composed of Egidij Capuder, Mateja Kovačič and Bojan Kofler of Lek, a new Sandoz company. The group won top honors for their innovation “Production of Patentable Forms of Amoxiclav”.

With the awarding of this prize the Chamber wishes to stimulate innovative activities in Slovenia, which increase the competitiveness of the economy and at the same time give public encouragement to and highlight the creativity of many professional innovators.

The innovation ‘Production of Patentable Forms of Amoxiclav’ is the result of years of research by the Lek team in the field of research of active pharmaceutical ingredients and final dosage forms.

Egidij Capuder, who works at Lek Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients Development, has contributed to the acquiring of the largest number of patents in this field with his original solutions in the development of potassium clavulanate.

The independent patent protection and marketing of final dosage forms of Amoxiclav were made possible through the innovative solutions of Mateja Kovačič and Bojan Kofler, despite the numerous legal obstacles set by the originator of the product Glaxo Smith Kline.

Amoxiclav is an antibiotic which is used to treat a wide range of bacterial infections, and is a member of the highest-selling group of medicines in the world. In addition to being economically justified, innovative approaches and new chemical engineering solutions in the procedure of preparing pure alkaline salts of clavulanic acid using the direct and methanol methods are also advantageous from the environmental point of view, since they involve safe and environmentally friendly industrial manufacturing processes. Organic solvents are used exclusively in production, and fermentation waste products are recycled or incinerated in on-site facilities. Amoxiclav is Lek’s top-selling medicine, marketed in more than 60 countries. The major achievement of marketing Amoxiclav on the world’s most demanding pharmaceuticals markets (US, EU, Australia etc.) was made possible by the timely development of solutions for the manufacturing of final dosage forms which were not dependent on patents, and which featured original development solutions for the formulation of tablets and oral suspensions.

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 also markets its products successfully on the US market, in the 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. For further information please consult http://www.lek.si.

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 http://www.novartis.com.

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 information contact:
Katarina Klemenc Dinjaški
Corporate Communications
Lek Pharmaceuticals d.d.

Phone: + 386 1 580 22 43
Fax: + 386 1 580 24 32