Novartis’ generics business, Sandoz, is to move its global headquarters to Holzkirchen in southern Germany as part of the ongoing integration of Hexal AG and Eon Labs into the larger parent company, following their purchase in February for almost 6 billion euros [[21/02/05b]].

The transaction is expected to close in the second half of the year but – in the meantime – Novartis says Hexal and Eon will “continue to operate separately as independent, directly competing companies.” Following the merger, both the Hexal and Sandoz brands will be maintained in Germany.

Holzkirchen is the current location for Hexal’s operations and has been selected because it is also close to the Sandoz base in Austria and because of the proximity to Munich, an important biotechnology hub. And the news is a real plus for Germany, which has faced strong criticism from pharmaceutical residents because of the difficult R&D climate. The country is the number two generics market in the world and, with support from the government, is also one of the fastest-growing regions in the world for copycat drugs.

The Sandoz site in Austria will not become redundant, however, and the company stresses it will now become the headquarters for its anti-infectives business with 2,700 jobs remaining intact.

- Meanwhile, Novartis says its antimalarial treatment Coartem (artemether-lumefantrine) has been shown to be the most effective available treatment for malaria in children in areas of Africa where resistance to conventional anti-malarial drugs is high. The data are published in the latest issue of The Lancet.