From the very beginning, our operations have been characterized by dynamic development and a predisposition towards internationalization. Constant and intensive growth, characteristic of Lek’s entire history, has recently become an especially noticeable factor.
The Lek medicinal products factory is officially founded. As a young company, the first task is to expand the product portfolio and to increase the number of in-house manufactured drugs.
New investments introduce a period of rapid growth, the number of employees increases and their average level of education rises.
Lek’s operations are marked by the beginning of the development and manufacturing of potassium clavulanate, an important component of our leading product Amoksiklav®.
Following the adoption of the Transformation of Company Ownership Act at the end of 1992, in June 1994 Lek becomes the first Slovenian joint-stock company with known private owners. In June 1992, Lek’s class C shares are first quoted on the Ljubljana stock market, followed by class A shares in August 1996 and, after dematerialization, class B shares in 1999.
Lek is the first Central-European pharmaceutical company to place a final product on the US market.
We establish a research and semi-industrial laboratory for classical biotechnology and recombinant products. In Prevalje we open a new manufacturing plant for the production of penicillin products.
In accordance with our strategic orientation to the US generics market we obtain the registration of enalapril, one of the highest-selling drugs on that market. We lay the cornerstone of the Development Center, one of our major investment projects in this period. We open a new business center for south-eastern Europe in Skopje (Macedonia) and a representative office in Riga (Latvia).
We complete the acquisition of the Romanian pharmaceutical company Pharma Tech and become one of the leading manufacturers of antibiotics in the region. This is followed by the acquisition of Argon S.A. in Lodz, Poland, through which Lek strengthens its position on the Polish market and in the cardiovascular and OTC segments. On the American market we found Lek Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and become a distributor of medicines in that market. We open a representative office in China and obtain a certificate for environmental safety according to the ISO 14001 standard.
2002 is a landmark year for Lek. The friendly takeover through which Lek becomes a part of the Novartis Group is completed in November.
On the American market we obtain marketing approvals from the regulatory agencies for the sale of bromocryptine, a drug for treating Parkinson’s disease, and lisinopril, a drug for treating high blood pressure. In Ljubljana we open the new Lek Development Center, which enables the closer cooperation of Lek’s research units with research activities at scientific institutes and universities at home and abroad. In Romania we lay the cornerstone of the new manufacturing plant for the production of safe and high-quality antibiotics, and in Poland the cornerstone for one of Lek’s largest investment projects – the pharmaceutical manufacturing and logistics center in Strykow.
The obtaining of a marketing approval for launching co-amoxiclav on the US market in 2003 is a major step in operations. We further strengthen our position on the world’s largest market by obtaining a marketing approval for omeprazole, the second-highest selling pharmaceutical product in the world. We also successfully defend our European patent for the synthesis of omeprazole.
We receive Innovator of the Year award in 2002 for the project “Filgrastim – acquiring a recombinant protein through innovative solutions”.
After recording successful results Lek takes first place among Slovene companies, overtakes regional competitors in terms of growth and achieves the highest sales of comparable pharmaceutical companies in Central and Eastern Europe. In May 2003 several national brands in the framework of Novartis Generics are formed into a strong global brand: Sandoz.
We open a new biopharmaceuticals plant in Mengeš, the first of its kind in Central and Eastern Europe. With it we strengthen our in-house research and development and contribute to Sandoz’s achieving a leading role in the field of biopharmaceuticals.
The new plants in Romania and Poland begin operating, which will manufacture drugs for the growing needs of the European markets and strengthen Novartis’ commitment to the markets of the expanded European Union. Sandoz begins marketing pravastatin, a drug for lowering cholesterol, in Great Britain, Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark. The drug is the fruit of Lek’s in-house knowledge and the successful linking of Lek’s development, manufacturing and patent protection divisions with the opportunities offered by Sandoz’s global network. Together with the Faculty of Medicine in Ljubljana we enable the publishing of the electronic edition of the Slovene Medical Dictionary, and together with professional associates we enable the publishing of a new edition of the publication Arterial Hypertension.
In September we laid the cornerstone for the Lek Biopharmaceuticals Development Center in Mengeš, where we will develop and produce biopharmaceuticals for Sandoz’s global markets. In Ljubljana we upgraded a new line for the technically demanding technology of statin tablets. We started a project of expanding production, which envisages an increase in annual production capacities to 5 billion tablets. In Lendava we completed a project of constructing parallel fermentation capacities by erecting a new warehouse.
We sold our 100% share in Lek Kozmetika d.o.o. and thus focused solely on the development, production and marketing of pharmaceutical products and active ingredients.
In the field of occupational health and safety in September we acquired the OHSAS 18001:1999 certificate of excellence.
In 2006 we initiated a difficult project, as part of which we organized the field of personal data security in accordance with legislation, and won an award for good practice in personal data security.
In October we opened the new Biopharmaceuticals Development Center, which is one of six biopharmaceuticals centers at Novartis.
In Ljubljana we built a new quality assurance center with laboratories for testing and releasing Lek and Sandoz products, as well as a modern microbiology laboratory.
At the end of the year we completed our project of restructuring and optimization of processes in Supply, which became the Sandoz supply center for the markets of CEE, SEE, CIS and Slovenia.
In Lendava we began construction of a regional packaging center.
On May 31 a US District Court in New York found that Lek’s product Omeprazole, a generic version of Prilosec (omeprazole) did not infringe originator Swedish-American pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca’s patents.
We were among the first companies in Slovenia to receive a “Family-Friendly Company” certificate. At the end of the year we completed the construction of a new day-care center in Ljubljana.