The Slovenia Times

Lek breaks ground on biosimilars production centre in Lendava

Prime Minister Robert Golob speaks at a ceremony marking the start of construction of Lek's new high-tech centre for the production of biosimilars in Lendava. Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA

Lek, the Ljubljana-based pharmaceutical company that is part of the Swiss generics group Sandoz, has broken ground on a new high-tech production centre for biosimilars in Lendava in the north-east of the country in an investment valued at over US$400 million.

The centre is to become operational by 2026 and is to add around 300 jobs to almost 800 already existing at the company's location in Lendava, which manufactures anti-infectives and packages finished pharmaceutical dosage forms.

Addressing a ceremony on 11 December at which the foundation stone was symbolically laid, CEO of Sandoz Richard Saynor described the investment as a "state-of the-art facility in every way".

"It represents the single largest investment in our history and one of the largest foreign investments in Slovenia," he said.

Spanning a surface area of over 42,000 square metres, the new centre will have three units.

"The first will be dedicated to reagent generation and will also bring improvements to existing production. This will be followed by state-of-the-art facilities for biopharmaceutical production and warehousing," Lek CEO Robert Ljoljo explained.

The new centre will allow Slovenia and Sandoz to increase their role in providing affordable treatment for diseases that are not covered by conventional medicines, he said.

Prime Minister Robert Golob, one of several senior guests to attend the ceremony, expressed "gratitude to Sandoz for recognising Slovenia as a key point on which to ground the development of not only biologics, but also the future of the company".

Apart from the centre in Lendava, Sandoz has also announced a US$90 million investment at its Ljubljana site to establish a dedicated Sandoz Biopharma Development Centre by 2026.

Golob said he was proud that Slovenia is an attractive environment for foreign technology investment, which he said was owing to its good infrastructure and development-minded environment, as well as "people with skills that are the envy of the whole of Europe".

The investment in Lendava will make Switzerland the second biggest foreign investor in Slovenia after Austria, he said.

As the government and Lek signed a memorandum of understanding on the Lendava project in March, the investment was estimated and €379 million and Golob announced the government would support it with an investment incentive of between 50 and 55 million euros.

Lek is the fifth largest employer in Slovenia, which the company said was on track to become a global development centre for biosimilars.


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