STA, 5 February 2020 - Addressing the press on Wednesday amid continuing speculation about the plans of Novartis, representatives of the Swiss multinational's Slovenian subsidiary Lek said Novartis would continue a reform in Slovenia that included the transformation of production locations and more focus on innovative drugs along with generics.
"The changes that we feel the most are Novartis's ongoing portfolio changes. In this context I see Lek in Slovenia integrated to a greater extent in the innovative segment," Lek head Robert Ljoljo said.
"This does not mean that we're leaving generic products entirely ... but we'll definitely see a transformation of production locations and an additional increase in the number of innovative drugs produced," he added.
Lek started producing 10 innovative drugs last year, making for a total of 26. The development of generic pharmaceuticals is also continuing, with registration applications filed last year for 21, the development and research executive Uroš Urleb explained.
Novartis plans to continue with investment. Last year it expanded the development centre in Ljubljana and set up an automatised analysis lab, while this spring it expects to wrap up an investment into the development of biological medicinal products in Mengeš.
Commenting on the change of plans in Prevalje, where Lek built a new hall to then announce it was actually phasing out the production of antibiotics there, Lek management board member Raul Intriago Lombeida repeated this location would be part of Novartis's future global centre for technical operations.
As regards a potential sale of the newly built hall, Ljoljo said that talks with TAB, the Mežica-based maker of starter batteries for cars and industrial batteries, were still ongoing.
Meanwhile, Intriago Lombeida did not wish to comment directly on the visit of potential Chinese investors at the production unit for active ingredients in Mengeš. He said such visits by agency representatives, suppliers etc. were an everyday affair.
Lek's results in 2019 were also not discussed concretely, with Ljoljo announcing they would be presented in the annual report, presumably in August. He did say the trends were in line with those for Novartis, which increased net sales by 9% while seeing a decrease net profit by 7% to EUR 11.7 bn.