Two Golden Innovation Awards for scientists from Lek, a Sandoz company

  • Lek, a Sandoz company, received two golden awards, bestowed by the Slovenian Chamber of Commerce and Industry for the best innovation. 
  • The awards were received for two of Lek’s innovations, which bring the most benefits for the end users – patients. The researchers focused primarily on higher quality, safety and affordability of drug substances.
  • The Slovenian Chamber of Commerce and Industry values the knowledge of Lek’s experts, as for over the past 14 years since the national innovation awards were first bestowed, they have received eight awards.
21. 9. 2016

On the occasion of this year’s Innovation Day, the Slovenian Chamber of Commerce and Industry bestowed national awards for the most innovative companies, as well as for innovators within companies and public research institutions. In the national finals, 14 golden, 21 silver and 5 bronze awards were bestowed. Among the winners of golden awards were also Lek’s scientists with two innovations focusing primarily on higher quality, safety and affordability of drug substances. 

The awards for the best innovation at the national level are the highest acknowledgement for innovative achievements of Slovenian companies, thereby promoting innovation in Slovenia. Three inventions by Lek's experts have already been awarded in the Central Slovenia region, two of them earned the award also at the national level. 

The first of the two gold awards went to the innovation team for developing a novel approach for manufacturing a medicinal product with the active substance omeprazole. The innovation team head Rok Starič said: »The CCI Award is a recognition of the many years of work in the field where this innovation was generated. The first acknowledgement was the approval of the novel approach for manufacturing a medicinal product with the active substance omeprazole by the US Food and Drug Agency (FDA), while the CCI Award additionally emphasizes the innovation of our process, bringing about a competitive advantage in a ruthless American market.« Innovation contributes significantly to lowering the cost of treatment, which means greater availability of medicine while at the same time offering savings to health insurance companies, which can allocate additional funds for new medicines. Apart from Rok Starič, the team members were Petra Perhavec; Jernej Grmaš; Jerneja Opara, PhD; Mateja Novak Štagoj, PhD: Klara Megušar; Dušan Gašperlin, and Franci Sopotnik. 

The second of the two golden awards was received by the team lead by Zdenko Časar, PhD, that developed innovative, high quality and affordable sitagliptin, a drug substance for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. The scientists from the Faculty of Pharmacy were, apart from Lek’s experts, also involved in this innovation, and this collaboration has proved to be highly successful. The innovation is based on the principles of green chemistry, an important part of sustainable development. From this perspective, the basic steps for generating less waste, reducing environmental cost and consequently the price of the potential substance or product manufacture, were outlined already in the development phase. The innovation design was based on the idea of trying to mimic the reactions from nature and incorporate them into their experimental work. »As nature provides a large amount of information we succeeded in developing a very simple biomimetic catalytic system which enables a shorter process compared to those of the competitors, comprises simpler and at the same time natural reagents and, with less waste, follows the modern trends of environmental awareness. With innovation, we tried to outline the basic guidelines for environmentally friendlier and sustainable methodologies in pharmaceutical organic chemistry. This was in the end confirmed, in addition to the granted patents, also by publication of two scientific papers and citations in prominent international scientific journals,« said a member of the innovation team, Gaj Stavber, PhD. The members of the innovation team were also experts from the Ljubljana Faculty of Pharmacy, i.e. Assist. Prof. Matej Sova, PhD; Rok Frlan, PhD, and Prof. Stanislav Gobec, PhD.

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Lek, a Sandoz company, is one of the key pillars of the second-largest generic pharmaceutical company globally. Its role within Sandoz is to act as: a leading global development center for technologically demanding products and technologies; a key 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 active ingredients and products; a supply center for the markets of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), South East Europe (SEE) and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), and is responsible for marketing and sales of Sandoz products on the Slovenian market. For further information, please visit

Sandoz, a Novartis company, is a global leader in generic pharmaceuticals and biosimilars, driving sustainable access to high-quality healthcare. Sandoz supplies a broad range of affordable, primarily off-patent products to patients and customers around the globe. The Sandoz portfolio comprises approximately 1,100 molecules, which accounted for 2015 sales of USD 9.2 billion. Sandoz is headquartered in Holzkirchen, in Germany’s Greater Munich area. The company holds leading global positions in biosimilars as well as in generic anti-infectives, ophthalmics and transplantation medicines. 

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 and cost-saving generic pharmaceuticals. Novartis is the only global company with leading positions in these areas. In 2015, the Group achieved net sales of USD 49.4 billion, while R&D throughout the Group amounted to approximately USD 8.9 billion (USD 8.7 billion excluding impairment and amortization charges). Novartis Group companies employ approximately 118,000 full-time-equivalent associates. Novartis products are available in more than 180 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