Deals of the year: Central and Eastern Europe
Lek: its production capacity and
Some of the biggest pharmaceutical companies have been exiting from the generics business but Novartis has made it clear that it intends to expand its share. The world's second-biggest pharmaceuticals company believes that the patent explosion of the past five years is slowing, and that a good toehold in generics will help it to undercut rivals, particularly arch-rival GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), the biggest pharmaceuticals company.
One of GSK's best-selling drugs is Augmentin, which is used to treat pneumonia and sinusitis. Revenues from this drug last year were around $2 billion. Novartis has been producing a generic version of the drug in Switzerland, but production capacity has been reached.