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Novartis International AG is a multinational pharmaceutical company based in Basel, Switzerlandmarker, ranking number one in revenues, which accounted over $53 billion in 2008, and number three in sales, which accounted 36.173 billon in 2008. Novartis is one of the largest healthcare companies in the world and a leading giant among pharmaceutical companies. Novartis manufactures drugs such as clozapine (Clozaril), diclofenac (Voltaren), carbamazepine (Tegretol), valsartan (Diovan), imatinib mesylate (Gleevec / Glivec), ciclosporin (Neoral / Sandimmun), letrozole (Femara), methylphenidate (Ritalin), terbinafine (Lamisil), and others. Novartis owns Sandoz, a large manufacturer of generic drugs. The company formerly owned the Gerber Products Company, a major infant and baby products producer, but sold it to Nestlé on 1 September 2007.

Novartis is a full member of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA).

Collaborative Research

In addition to internal research and development activities Novartis is also involved in publicly funded collaborative research projects, with other industrial and academic partners. One example in the area of non-clinical safety assessment is the InnoMed PredTox. The company is expanding its activities in joint research projects within the framework of the Innovative Medicines Initiative of EFPIA and the European Commissionmarker.


Novartis was created in 1996 from the merger of Ciba-Geigy and Sandoz Laboratories, both Swiss companies with long histories. Ciba-Geigy was formed in 1970 by the merger of J. R. Geigy Ltd (founded in Basel in 1758) and Ciba (founded in Basel in 1859). Combining the histories of the merger partners, the company's effective history spans 250 years.


Johann Rudolf Geigy-Gemuseus (1733–1793) began trading in 1758 in "materials, chemicals, dyes and drugs of all kinds" in Baselmarker, Switzerlandmarker. Johann Rudolf Geigy-Merian (1830–1917) and Johann Muller-Pack acquired a site in Basel in 1857, where they built a dyewood mill and a dye extraction plant. Two years later, they began the production of synthetic fuchsine. In 1901, they formed the public limited company Geigy and the name of the company was changed to J. R. Geigy Ltd in 1914.

In 1859 Alexander Clavel (1805 1873) took up the production of fuchsine in his factory for silk-dyeing works in Basel. In 1864, a new site for the production of synthetic dyes was constructed, and in 1873, Clavel sold his dye factory to the new company Bindschedler & Busch. In 1884 Bindschedler & Busch is transformed into a joint-stock company with the name "Gesellschaft für Chemische Industrie Basel" (Company for Chemical Industry Basel). The abbreviation Ciba was adopted as the company's name in 1945.

In 1925 J. R. Geigy Ltd. began producing textile auxiliaries, an activity which Ciba took up in 1928.

In 1939, Geigy chemist Paul Hermann Müller discovered that DDT was effective against malaria-bearing insects. He received the Nobel Prize in Medicine for this work in 1948.

Ciba and Geigy merged in 1971 to form Ciba‑Geigy Ltd., and this company merged with Sandoz in 1996 to form Novartis.


The Chemiefirma Kern & Sandoz ("Kern & Sandoz Chemistry Firm") was founded in 1886 by Dr. Alfred Kern (1850–1893) and Edouard Sandoz (1853–1928). The first dyes manufactured there were alizarine blue and auramine. After Kern's death, the partnership became the corporation Chemische Fabrik vormals Sandoz in 1895. The company began producing the fever-reducing drug antipyrin in the same year. Further pharmaceutical research began in 1917 under Professor Arthur Stoll (1887–1971). In 1899, the company began producing the sugar substitute saccharin.

Between the World Wars, Gynergen (1921) and Calcium-Sandoz (1929) were brought to market. Sandoz also produced chemicals for textiles, paper, and leather, beginning in 1929. In 1939, they began producing agricultural chemicals.

In 2005, Sandoz expanded significantly though the acquisition of Hexal, one of Germany's leading generic drug companies, and Eon Labs, a fast-growing US generic pharmaceutical company.

The psychedelic effects of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) were discovered at the Sandoz laboratories in 1943 by Albert Hofmann. Sandoz began clinical trials, and marketed the substance, from 1947 through the mid 1960s, under the name Delysid as a psychiatric drug, thought useful for treating a wide variety of mental ailments, from alcoholism to sexual deviancy. Sandoz suggested in its literature that psychiatrists take LSD themselves, to gain a better subjective understanding of the schizophrenic experience, and many did exactly that. For several years, the psychedelic drugs were also called "psychotomimetic" because they were thought to mimic psychosis. Later research caused this term to be abandoned, as neuroscientists gained a better understanding of psychoses, including schizophrenia. Research on LSD peaked in the 1950s and early 1960s. Sandoz withdrew the drug from the market in the mid 1960s.

Sandoz opened its first foreign offices in 1964.

In 1967, Sandoz merged with Wander AG (known for Ovomaltine and Isostar). Sandoz acquired the companies Delmark, Wasabröd (a Swedishmarker manufacturer of crisp bread), and Gerber Products Company (a baby food company).

On 1 November 1986, a fire broke out in a production plant storage room, which led to a large amount of pesticide being released into the upper Rhinemarker river. This exposure killed many fish and other aquatic life.

In 1995, Sandoz spun off its speciality chemicals business to form Clariant. Subsequently, in 1997, Clariant merged with the speciality chemicals business that was spun off from Hoechst AG in Germanymarker.

"Sandoz" continues as a Novartis generic drug brand (see below for details).

After the merger

After the merger, Novartis reorganized its activities, and spun out its chemicals activities as Ciba Specialty Chemicals (now a part of BASFmarker).

In 1998 the company made headlines with its biotechnology licensing agreement with the UC Berkeleymarker Department of Plant and Microbial Biology. Critics of the agreement expressed concern over prospects that the agreement would diminish academic objectivity, or lead to the commercialization of genetically modified plants. The agreement expired in 2003.

Novartis combined its agricultural division with that of AstraZeneca to create Syngenta in November 2000.

In 2003, Novartis created a new company named Sandoz, a subsidiary that bundles its generic drug production, reusing the predecessor brand.

On 20 April 2006, Novartis acquired the California-based Chiron Corporation. Chiron was formerly divided into three units: Chiron Vaccines and Chiron Blood Testing, which now combine to form Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics, and Chiron BioPharmaceuticals, to be integrated into Novartis Pharmaceuticals.

The ongoing Basel Campus Project has the aim to transform the St. Johann site - Novartis headquarters in Basel - "from an industrial complex to a place of innovation, knowledge and encounter".

In 2005, Novartis introduced Certican (Everolimus), an immunosuppressant, and in October 2006 began marketing Telbivudine, a new antiviral drug for hepatitis B.

On 12 October 2009, Novartis has entered into an agreement for exclusive US and Canadian rights to Fanapt(iloperidone), a new oral medication that is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the acute treatment of adults with schizophrenia.

On 6 November 2009, Novartis reached an agreement to acquire an 85% stake in the Chinese vaccines company Zhejiang Tianyuan Bio-Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. as part of a strategic initiative to build a vaccines industry leader in this country and expand the Group's limited presence in this fast-growing market segment. This proposed acquisition will require government and regulatory approvals in China.



Consumer Health (OTC)

In January 2009 the United States Department of Health and Human Services awarded Novartis a $486 million contract for construction of the first U.S. plant to produce cell-based influenza vaccine, to be located in Holly Springsmarker, North Carolinamarker. The stated goal of this program is the capability of producing 150,000,000 doses of pandemic vaccine within six months of declaring a flu pandemic.

Animal Health

Pet Care

  • Acatalk Duostar (Fluazuron, Ivermectin), tick control for cattle
  • CLiK (Dicyclanil), blowfly control for sheep
  • Denagard (Tiamulin)
  • Fasinex (Triclabendazole)
  • ViraShield

Bioprotection (insect and rodent control)

Research and Development

Major therapeutic areas:
  • autoimmunity/transplantation/inflammatory disease
  • cardiovascular disease
  • diabetes
  • gastrointestinal disease
  • infectious diseases
  • musculoskeletal disease
  • neuroscience
  • oncology
  • ophthalmology
  • respiratory disease
Novartis Vaccines was established in April 2006, following the Novartis acquisition of Chiron.

Challenge to India's patent laws

In 2006, Novartis launched a court case against Indiamarker seeking to prohibit the country from developing generic drugs based on patented medicines. Novartis had challenged a law that allows India to refuse to recognize a patent for an existing medicine if there is a modified formula resulting in a re-patent of the drug. On August 5, 2007 an Indian court in Chennaimarker ruled against Novartis saying that, "Novartis’ legal challenge - mounted to limit competition to its own patented medicines - was a threat to people suffering from cancer, HIV and AIDS, diabetes and other diseases who are too poor to pay for them." The high court also claimed to have no jurisdiction on whether Indian Patent law complied with WTO patent guidelines.

In the months leading up to the hearing, over half a million people wrote to the CEO of Novartis expressing their opposition to the suit. Novartis has decided not to appeal the ruling.

Relationship with Huntingdon Life Sciences

The company and its shareholders have been targeted by animal rights activists because it is a customer of Huntingdon Life Sciences., a controversial animal testing company that has been the subject of an international campaign by Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty and the Animal Liberation Front. After footage shot covertly by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) aired on British television showing HLS staff abusing animals, Novartis offices were vandalized, and its executives' homes picketed.

Advertising practices

In September 2008 the FDA sent a notice to Novartis Pharmaceuticals regarding its advertising of Focalin XR, an ADHD drug, in which they overstated its efficacy.

'No' to free flu vaccines

In June 2009, Novartis declined to provide a donation to the poor of vaccines to counter the latest flu pandemic, saying developing nations or donor nations should cover the costs. Daniel Vasella, Novartis chief executive, told the Financial Times that he would consider offering discounted pricing to low-income nations, but unlike GlaxoSmithKline, would not offer vaccines for free.


  1. Novartis completes divestment program with transfer of Gerber baby foods business
  2. [ Nestlé Consolidates Nutrition Leadership Position Through Acquisition of Gerber]
  3. [é_completes_its_acquisition_of_Gerber.htm Nestlé completes its acquisition of Gerber]
  4. Mattes WB (2008), Public consortium efforts in toxicogenomics, Methods Mol Biol. 2008;460:221-38 [1]
  5. Company history at Novartis site
  6.| Ciba history website
  7. Albert Hofmann: LSD - My Problem Child: Use of LSD in Psychiatry
  8. Novartis Enters Into Agreement With Vanda
  9. Novartis to expand its human vaccines presence in China
  10. Novartis official 2007 product sales
  11. {{cite press release | title=US Department of Health and Human Services awards Novartis USD 486 million contract to build manufacturing facility for pandemic flu vaccine | | date=January 15, 2009 | publisher=Novartis | accessdate=2009-11-13
  12. Indian ruling against pharmaceutical giant Novartis a victory for public health
  13. Ibid. Patients before Profits.
  14. Ibid. Make Trade Fair.
  15. Financial Times - Novartis says 'no' to free flu vaccines

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