Novartis International AG is a multinational pharmaceutical company based in Basel, Switzerland that manufactures drugs such as clozapine (Clozaril), diclofenac (Voltaren), carbamazepine (Tegretol), valsartan (Diovan), imatinib mesylate (Gleevec / Glivec), cyclosporin A (Neoral / Sandimmun), letrozole (Femara), methylphenidate hydrochloride (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).
In 1859 Alexander Clavel (1805 1873) takes 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 is constructed, and in 1873, Clavel sells 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 becomes so widespread that it was adopted as the company's name in 1945.
In 1925 J.R. Geigy Ltd. starts producing textile auxiliaries, an activity which Ciba takes up in 1928.
Ciba and Geigy merged in 1971 to form Ciba‑Geigy Ltd., and this company merged with Sandoz in 1996 to form Novartis.
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.
From 1899, the sugar substitute saccharin was produced. Prior to the merger of Sandoz and Ciba-Geigy to form Novartis in 1996, Sandoz also engaged in drug development. Pharmaceutical research began in 1917 under Professor Arthur Stoll (1887–1971). In 2005, Sandoz expanded significantly though the acquisition of Hexal, one of Germany’s leading generics company, and Eon Labs, a fast-growing U.S. 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 drug 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 (Swedish manufacturer of crisp bread), and Gerber Products Company baby food makers.
In 1998 the company made headlines with its biotechnology licensing agreement with the UC Berkeley 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.
On April 20 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".
On 2005, Novartis introduced Certican (Everolimus), an immunosuppressant.
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.