Lek researchers present to University of Ljubljana Chancellor proposed steps for promoting innovation in Slovenia and enhancing cooperation between science and business

Lek one of the strongest development centers in Slovenia

15. 6. 2010

At a visit to the Lek Development Center today, University of Ljubljana Chancellor Prof. Dr. Radovan Stanislav Pejovnik listened to proposed steps for promoting innovation and enhancing cooperation between the business and academic spheres. These proposals were presented by the Head of Lek’s Development Center Dr. Josef Egerbacher and his colleagues. As one of Slovenia’s strongest development centers, Lek also presented these proposals at the May session of the Council for Science and Technology as starting points for the new National Research and Development (R&D) Program, in line with its desire to contribute to the country’s overall development.

The Development Center in Ljubljana is one of the key global development centers in Sandoz, carrying out about a quarter of all global development activities. Since 2002, the number of development projects at Lek has grown steadily – there are currently over 200 projects underway in various stages of development. Continued investments by its owner are further proof of Lek’s importance to the Sandoz global R&D network. From 2003 to today, Novartis has invested around 900 million euros, nearly half of which has been in research and development.

Lek’s R&D facilities employ 471 associates, of whom 113 hold doctorate and 29 Master’s of Science degrees. The Company’s R&D activities are divided into two key areas: classical generic medicines and biosimilars development. Around 300 associates are dedicated to the development of classic generic medicines at the Sandoz Development Center Slovenia in Ljubljana, and about 150 to biosimilars at the Biopharmaceuticals Development Center in Mengeš, with other development associates working in the field of anti-infectives.

Proposals for stimulating innovation in Slovenia

Lek, a Sandoz company, has worked closely with Slovenian universities and research institutes in the field of research and development for many years. The Company’s global presence and perspective offers Slovenian professionals an excellent opportunity to work with state-of-the-art technologies, benefit from continuous education, and expand their knowledge and experience through participation in various international projects.

“Lek has been an important partner of Slovenian science for many years. Following today’s visit at the Development Center and speaking with Lek experts, I am convinced that this will continue to be the case. The proposed steps that Lek has presented for promoting innovation are well thought out, clearly articulated and based on global experience, which I hope will be an integral element of the National Research and Development Program,” said University of Ljubljana Chancellor Prof. Dr. Radovan Stanislav Pejovnik.

The proposals presented include: a tax relief on R&D investments and income from resulting innovations; an innovation portal for promoting and fostering such a culture; creation of a National Institute of Biomedicine and Biotechnology; financing of academic researchers primarily engaged in industrial research; regulation of the Junior Researcher status regardless of their legal association with employers; subsidizing of costs related to filing applications; and, education of individuals working in the field of industrial biotechnology.

“We believe that development and innovation are the driving force behind progress in business and society as a whole. We clearly demonstrate this through our continuous investments in and strengthening of research and development activities, and the nearly 500 strong associate workforce dedicated to this field. The formation of the National Research and Development program is very important for Slovenia and we want to ensure our contribution. Only through close cooperation between both business (with its practical experience) and science will we be able to obtain a truly high-quality program that will meet our mutual objectives and position Slovenia as an innovation-based society,” said Dr. Josef Egerbacher, Head of Development Center Slovenia.

Collaboration between Lek and the University of Ljubljana

Lek, a Sandoz company, has worked closely with Slovenian universities and research institutes for many years in the field of research and development. The Company predominantly works on projects with the University of Ljubljana’s Faculty of Chemistry & Chemical Engineering and Faculty of Pharmacy. Other forms of collaboration include the sponsoring of doctoral and diploma work at Lek, where qualified Lek researchers serve as trusted advisors or co-advisors and participate in doctoral and undergraduate dissertation committees. Lek experts also perform expert reviews for the University Office of Research, Development and Intellectual Property as well as reviews of articles for scientific publications.

Lek believes that there are several opportunities for enhanced cooperation with the University, which were also presented to the Chancellor during the visit. Such opportunities would include the employment of experienced qualified researchers at the University, who would not be part of the pedagogic process, but rather focused on industrial projects. Similarly, qualified Lek researchers could actively participate and teach at the postgraduate level, offering selected curricula that the University could not provide on its own – e.g. industrial pharmaceutical chemistry or industrial organic synthesis.

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Lek, a Sandoz company, is one of the pillars of leading world generics company Sandoz. Its role within Sandoz is: a global development center for products and technologies; a global manufacturing center for active pharmaceutical ingredients and medicines; a competence center for the development of vertically integrated products; a Sandoz competence center in the field of development and manufacturing of biosimilar products; and, a supply center for the markets of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), South East Europe (SEE) and Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), and it is also in charge for the sales on Slovenian market. For further information please visit http://www.lek.si/eng/.

Sandoz, a Division of the Novartis group, is a global leader in the field of generic pharmaceuticals, offering a wide array of high-quality, affordable products that are no longer protected by patents. Sandoz has a portfolio of approximately 1000 compounds and sells its products in more than 130 countries. Key product groups include antibiotics, treatments for central nervous system disorders, gastrointestinal medicines, cardiovascular treatments and hormone therapies. Sandoz develops, produces and markets these medicines along with pharmaceutical and biotechnological active substances and anti-infectives. In addition to strong organic growth in recent years, Sandoz has made a series of acquisitions including Lek (Slovenia), Sabex (Canada), Hexal (Germany), Eon Labs (US), EBEWE Pharma (Austria) and Oriel Therapeutics (US). In 2009, Sandoz employed around 23,000 people worldwide and posted sales of USD 7.5 billion. For further information please visit www.sandoz.com.

Novartis provides healthcare solutions that address the evolving needs of patients and societies. Focused solely on healthcare, Novartis offers a diversified portfolio to best meet these needs: innovative medicines, cost-saving generic pharmaceuticals, preventive vaccines, diagnostic tools and consumer health products. Novartis is the only company with leading positions in these areas. In 2009, the Group’s continuing operations achieved net sales of USD 44.3 billion, while approximately USD 7.5 billion was invested in R&D activities throughout the Group. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis Group companies employ approximately 100,000 full-time-equivalent associates and operate in more than 140 countries around the world. For more information, please visit http://www.novartis.com.

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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 further information contact:

Katarina Klemenc Dinjaški

Corporate Communications

Lek Pharmaceuticals d.d.

Phone: + 386 1 580 22 43

Fax: + 386 1 580 24 32