Team of scientists at Mengeš Biopharmaceuticals and the National Institute of Chemistry Ljubljana receive the Puh Award for outstanding achievements in the field of scientific research and development activities and their transfer in production

  • Simona Jevševar, PhD; Maja Kenig, PhD; Nebojša Furlan and Sašo Tomše from Sandoz Biopharmaceuticals Mengeš, in cooperation with the associates from the National Institute of Chemistry Ljubljana, have developed processes for the production of biosimilars filgrastim and pegfilgrastim and innovative methods to transfer them into production
  • The achievement of the team is a model example of transferring joint research-development achievements of Slovenian industry and academia into industrial production
  • Lek, a Sandoz company, has been for many years among one of the most innovative companies in Slovenia
21. 11. 2014

Associates of Lek, a Sandoz company, Simona Jevševar, PhD; Maja Kenig, PhD; Nebojša Furlan and Sašo Tomše from Biopharmaceuticals Mengeš, together with their colleagues from the National Institute of Chemistry Ljubljana – Prof. Vladka Gaberc Porekar, PhD, Ana Jesenko and Tatjana Milunović, MSc, who is involved as a researcher in the Development Analytics department at Biopharmaceuticals Mengeš – , are the recipients of the Puh Award for the development and production of biosimilar medicinal products filgrastim and pegfilgrastim and the transfer thereof into production.

On Friday, 21 November, 2014 the Zois Awards, Zois Distinction, the Ambassador of Science Awards and the Puh Award were given out at the Brdo Congress Center. The keynote speaker at the event was the Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia, Miro Cerar, and the event was broadcasted live by TV Slovenija 2. The prestigious Puh Award is one of the highest state recognitions in the area of scientific and research activities, given for outstanding achievements in the field of developmental activities, such as inventions, developmental achievements and the use of scientific findings when introducing innovations in economic practice.

The Committee of the RS for Zois Awards, Zois Distinction, the Ambassador of Science Award and the Puh Award, the members of which are named by the Government of the Republic of Slovenia and selected among renowned researchers, gave the following reasoning behind their decision to present this Puh Award: “The production of biological medicinal products is one of the fastest growing areas of modern pharmaceutical industry. A mixed team of researchers from the molecular biology and nanobiotechnology laboratory at the National Institute of Chemistry and the pharmaceutical company Lek d. d., have started developing processes for the preparation of the biological medicinal product filgrastim and its chemically modified version pegfilgrastim under the leadership of the now deceased Doctor Viktor Menart. Innovative processes enabled the transfer to the industrial level and the first generation of the drug is already in the market. The second generation, pegfilgrastim, the obtaining of which the winning team successfully transferred into production at the Mengeš site, has completed clinical trials. This high level expertize that Lek has gained in collaboration with the Slovenian academic sphere and which Lek demonstrated with its in-house development of biologicals upon the acquisition by Novartis in 2002, enabled that today more than 250 people are employed in the development and production of biosimilars at the Mengeš site which is more than ten times the number of employees at the time of acquisition. The achievement of the winning team is model example of transferring joint research-development achievements of Slovenian industry and academia into industrial production.”

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Lek, a Sandoz company, is one of key pillars of the second-largest generic pharmaceutical company globally. Its role within Sandoz is to act as: a leading 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 responsible for sales on the Slovenian market. For further information please visit

Sandoz, the generic pharmaceuticals division of Novartis, is a global leader in the generic pharmaceutical sector. Sandoz employs over 26,500 employees and its products are available in more than 160 countries, offering a broad range of high-quality, affordable products that are no longer protected by patents. With USD 9.2 billion in sales in 2013, Sandoz has a portfolio of approximately 1,100 molecules, and holds the #1 position globally in biosimilars as well as in generic injectables, ophthalmics, dermatology and antibiotics, complemented by leading positions in the cardiovascular, metabolism, central nervous system, pain, gastrointestinal, respiratory, and hormonal therapeutic areas. Sandoz develops, produces, and markets these medicines, as well as active pharmaceutical and biotechnological substances. Nearly half of Sandoz’s portfolio is in differentiated products, which are defined as products that are more difficult to scientifically develop and manufacture than standard generics.
In addition to strong organic growth since consolidating its generics businesses under the Sandoz brand name in 2003, Sandoz has benefitted from strong growth of its acquisitions, which include Lek (Slovenia), Sabex (Canada), Hexal (Germany), Eon Labs (US), EBEWE Pharma (Austria), Oriel Therapeutics (US), and Fougera Pharmaceuticals (US).
Sandoz is on Twitter. Sign up to follow @Sandoz_global at

Novartis provides innovative healthcare solutions that address the evolving needs of patients and societies. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis offers a diversified portfolio to best meet these needs: innovative medicines, eye care, cost-saving generic pharmaceuticals, preventive vaccines, over-the-counter and animal health products. Novartis is the only global company with leading positions in these areas. In 2013, the Group achieved net sales of USD 57.9 billion, while R&D throughout the Group amounted to approximately USD 9.9 billion (USD 9.6 billion excluding impairment and amortization charges). Novartis Group companies employ approximately 133,000 full-time-equivalent associates and sell products in more than 150 countries around the world. For more information, please visit

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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 additional information contact:
Katarina Klemenc
Corporate Communications
Lek Pharmaceuticals d. d.
Phone: +386 1 580 22 43
Fax: +386 1 580 24 32