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Type Private pharmaceutical company
Genre Pharmaceutical drug producer and biotechnological researcher
Founded 1996
Headquarters Basel, Switzerland

Novartis is a global pharmaceutical and biotechnology corporation with headquarters in Basel, Switzerland. The company specializes in biotechnological drugs, vaccines, over-the-counter pharmaceuticals, animal health care products, contact lenses and lense care products. It is the world's 5th largest vaccine producer. It distributes in over 140 countries through approximately 100,000 associates. [1] Novartis and AstraZeneca spun-off and merged to become Syngenta, a Swiss global agribusiness company formed in 2000 from the agrochemical and seed divisions of Novartis, and the agrochemicals and biotechnology research divisions of AstraZeneca. Syngenta is the world’s second biggest player in agrochemicals and the third biggest seed producer. [2]

In the fiscal year ending in December of 2009, the company reported sales of approximately $45.1 billion dollars and had 99,834 employees. [3]

Access Novartis's corporate rap sheet compiled and written by Good Jobs First here.



Novartis' four divisions are pharmaceuticals, vaccines and diagnostics; generics and consumer health. Its largest division is pharmaceuticals. Vaccine and Diagnostics manufactures vaccines and blood-screening tools. Its Sandoz generics subsidiary produces generic drugs and active pharmaceutical ingredients. The consumer health unit includes the brand names Benefiber, Excedrin and Theraflu. It also includes contact lenses, eye care products, companion animal and agricultural animal products. See also Novartis products. [4]

Novartis has six major product lines: pharmaceuticals; vaccines & diagnostics; Sandoz generic drugs, Over-the Counter (OTC) self medication; animal products and CIBA vision contact lenses and lens-care products. The company markets over 50 key pharmaceutical products. In 2008 Novartis launched 11 products in the U.S. and the European Union (EU). [5] Novartis' Vaccines and Diagnostics Division in vaccine development and blood-testing equipment. The company is the fifth largest vaccine manufacturer in the world and the second largest supplier of influenza vaccines in he U.S. [6]

Sandoz is the generic branch of Novartis pharmaceuticals. It manufactures low cost pharmaceuticals no longer protected by patents. Key products include drugs for central-nervous-system, gastrointestinal and cardiovascular disorders as well as antibiotics and hormone therapies. [7] The company's over the counter (OTC) division develops, manufactures and markets non-prescription self medication. [8] Novartis manufactures products for companion animals and "the health and productivity of farm animals." Products include treatments for disease and parasite infestations. [9] CIBA VISION specializes in contact lenses and lens-care production in over 70 countries. [10]

Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council

In August 2011, Novartis representative Don Stetcher was given the American Legislative Exchange Council's (ALEC's) 2011 Private Sector Member of the Year Award.[11]

About ALEC
ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's, and check out breaking news on our site.

Animal testing

Demonstrations against Huntingdon Life Sciences clients Novartis & Merck. - Washington, DC January 2008

Novartis does animal testing.

Facility information, progress reports & USDA-APHIS reports

For links to copies of a facility's U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)-Animal Plant Health Inspection (APHIS) reports, other information and links, see also Stop Animal Experimentation NOW!: Facility Reports and Information. This site contains listings for all 50 states, links to biomedical research facilities in that state and PDF copies of government documents where facilities must report their animal usage. (Search: Cambridge, Massachusetts; San Diego, California.)

This facility performed animal experiments involving pain or distress but no analgesics, anesthetics or pain relievers were administered. For copies of this facility's USDA-APHIS reports, other information and links, see also Facility Reports and Information: Novartis Animal Vaccines, Inc., Larchwood, IA. [12]

This facility performed animal experiments involving pain or distress but no analgesics, anesthetics or pain relievers were administered. For copies of this facility's USDA-APHIS reports, other information and links, see also Facility Reports and Information: Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, East Hanover, NJ[13]

USDA AWA reports

As of May 26, 2009, the USDA began posting all inspection reports for animal breeders, dealers, exhibitors, handlers, research facilities and animal carriers by state. See also USDA Animal Welfare Inspection Reports.

Contract testing

Novartis contract tests out to Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS). [14] HLS is the 3rd largest contract research organization (CRO) in the world and the largest animal testing facility in all of Europe. Firms hire CROs to conduct animal toxicity tests for agrochemicals, petrochemicals, household products, pharmaceutical drugs and toxins. HLS has a long history of gross animal welfare violations. See also Huntingdon Life Sciences.

Novartis contract tests out to Covance Laboratories. [15] Covance has a long history of gross animal welfare violations. See also Covance Laboratories.

Animal cruelty & welfare violations

Violation Tracker
Discover Which Corporations are the Biggest Violators of Environmental, Health and Safety Laws in the United States
Violation Tracker is the first national search engine on corporate misconduct covering environmental, health, and safety cases initiated by 13 federal regulatory agencies. Violation Tracker is produced by the Corporate Research Project of Good Jobs First. Click here to access Violation Tracker.

Dairies of Despair: banned report released in UK

In April 2003, the largest ever set of data concerning animal experiments in the United Kingdom was released following a defeat earlier in the month for a 30 month injunction by Novartis and its former British subsidiary, Imutran. The documents revealed primates being used in the search for solutions to the chronic global shortage of human transplant organs. Baboons were transported from the African savannahs to die in steel cages the size of toilet cubicles. According to the documents, a quarter of the primates died from "technical failures". Researchers describe monkeys and baboons dying in fits of vomiting and diarrhea. Other symptoms were violent spasms, bloody discharges, grinding teeth and uncontrollable, manic eye movements. Animals retreated within themselves, lying still in their cages until they were put of their misery. Baboon W201m died of a stroke after two days of suffering from limb spasms and paralysis. Baboon W205m was "sacrificed" after 21 days. A genetically modified pig's heart had been attached to the vital arteries within its neck. Researchers noted the heart was swelling way beyond its natural size with a strange yellow fluid seeping from the organ.

Other animals never even made it to the Novartis contract laboratory, Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS), suffering painful deaths en route. Faxes from global wildlife dealers reveal at least 50 baboons being taken from the African plains for the experiments. In one shipment, the creatures spent 34 hours in cramped transport crates; 10 hours longer than approved by the Home Office (which did not take any action.) In another shipment, three monkeys were found dead with blood oozing from their nostrils at a Paris airport. They had not been able to turn and lie down naturally. The 1,274 pages of documentation revealed a "litany of failings", including at least 520 errors and omissions. [16]


The 150 page Diaries of Despair report based on the documentation, provides the public with an unprecedented and extensive insight into the reality of vivisection in Britain. Never before has so much secret information about animal experiments entered the public domain. The report was effectively banned for almost two and a half years by an injunction by Imutran and Novartis in late September of 2000. The leaked documentation reveals horrific animal suffering, corrects misleading public presentation of research and exposes government deception. The five part report provides background information on xenotransplantation (transplanting organs of one species into another); an overview of the leaked documents and the rationale behind transgenic pigs as a potential source of xenografts. It describe the suffering of primates used in the research and the legal framework regulating animal testing. The report documents baboons and cynomolgus monkeys, from (in the case of the baboons) capture in the wild, through transportation half way across the world and their deaths in experiments conducted at HLS.[17]

See also Dairies of Despair: Further Reading. [18]

Organ transplants are transplants are prohibitively expensive and of limited value. However, selling transgenic pig parts and other organs is very profitable. Novartis and its subsidiaries have killed thousands of animals and spent millions of dollars attempting to develop animal organs for transplantation into humans. Xenotransplantation experiments have a long history of human and animal costs. They have proved to be one of the greatest medical disasters of all time, for both animals and recipients. Approximately 6,000 people are on waiting lists for human organs, an organ shortage which could largely be solved through default consent to organ donation after death. See also Humane Movement, section 5.


In spite of 100 years of failed research, the quest to turn animals into spare parts warehouses continues and has done nothing to slow Novartis' search for an immunopig; (pigs genetically manipulated to carry human genes.) However, failed research has shown that animals transplanted with human genes do not have suitable spare parts for humans, any more than non-genetically altered animals do. Other species such as hamsters, rabbits and monkeys have also been subjected to failed horrific and pointless xenotransplantation. The surgeries are so monumentally unsuccessful that animals usually begin to die within minutes.

Organ failure, rejection & dangers to human health

The transplanted organs do not function or are rejected almost instantaneously. In one experiment, a pig's kidney was accidentally transplanted into the abdomen of a monkey. The victims are then overdosed with anesthetics and their spleens were removed. Monkeys and baboons who survive xenotransplanation die of organ rejection, organ failure and infections from drug toxicity and impaired immune systems. Novartis has subjected monkeys to lethal infections, lethal blood clotting, bleeding complications, viral and protozoal infections, lymph cancer, severe nausea, severe stomach inflammation and diarrhea, dehydration, fatal pneumonia, persistent wound infections, breakdowns, brain trauma, heart attacks, pneumonia and anemia. Primates are also given massive doses of immune-suppressing drugs which cause internal hemorrhaging. In one experiment, a swab was left in a monkey's abdomen which in turn caused a lethal infection. Such incidents occur on a regular basis.

Some animal viruses are impossible to eradicate and can infect humans. Current and historic examples mad cow disease, HIV, avian flu and the 1918 influenza epidemic. Scientists have expressed concern that recipients of pig organs may pass viruses into the general population. [19], [20]

Induced schizophrenia & epilepsy in rats & mice

In experiments in Basel, Switzerland, rats Rats between 4 and 8 days age are deprived of oxygen. Some are exposed to reduced oxygen content. Some of them are killed on the 11th day of oxygen deprivation and their brains cut out and examined. Others are exposed to noise and rattled in steel cages until they begin to show symptoms of schizophrenia. Finally, on their 120th day the rats are killed.

In experiments in Germany on rats supplied by the Basel laboratory, electrodes are implanted into the stomachs and brains of mice. Pilokarpin (a drug used to treat dry mouth associated with cancer radiotion treatment) is then injected to induce epilepsy. Some of the mice die due to the treatment and others are again killed and their brains examined. Surviving mice and subjected to a second injection of the drug Diazepam (Valium). They live up to 28 days with the implanted electrodes before they are killed. [21]

Drilling open the heads of cats

In Germany experiments, the heads of cats are drilled open and a glass plate is applied. Pictures are shown to the cat and the brain is filmed through the glass plate. The cats are killed after 30 to 45 minutes. Martin Rausch of Novartis Pharma AG, Basel, Switzerland, participated in these experiments. [22], [23]

Drug safety issues

Novartis has been plagued by a number of recent drug safety issues, including the delay of its diabetes drug Galvus and "evaluating" the launch of a generic version of its Lotrel blood pressure treatment. Novartis withdrew the bowel drug Zelnorm from US shelves in March of 2007.

Prexige banned in Australia

In August of 2007, Australia banned Novartis' Prexige, after the deaths of two patients. According to Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), it received 8 reports of serious liver damage, including two deaths and two liver transplants linked to the COX-2 painkiller.

In spite of these developments, there were no plans to pull the drug elsewhere, according to a company spokes person. The company also planned to proceed with filing for marketing approval in the United States. COX-2s have been under a cloud since Merck withdrew Vioxx in 2004 after studies showed that it increased the risk for heart attacks. There have also been concerns over other non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs. Prexige had been viewed as a blockbuster seller for Novartis until the Vioxx withdrawal. [24]

Food safety issues

Syngenta inherits the dubious legacies of both parent companies, promoters of GMO (genetically modified organism) technology and manufacturers of hazardous chemicals (paraquat and atrazine11). In the late 1990s Novartis and AstraZeneca wanted to establish themselves as "lifesciences" companies in order to exploit potential synergies between their pharmaceutical, chemical and agricultural sectors. Both invested heavily in acquiring seed and biotechnology companies. The Syngenta spin-off was a result of the poor performance of both companies' agribusiness divisions in 1999 and at least partially due to the global backlash against GM crops.

The creation of Syngenta enabled the parent companies to make considerable savings and rid themselves of their controversial agricultural biotechnology ventures. Syngenta has so far managed to avoid the public vilification of Monsanto, while it quietly develops controversial agricultural biotechnology, including genetic use restriction technologies (GURTs)/traitor technology. [25]

Global GMOs & herbicide market

The top biotechnology companies are Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta and Bayer. (Syngenta is a subsidiary of parent companies AstraZeneca and Novartis. Aventis' agribusiness division was bought out by Bayer.) They account for almost 100% of the genetically engineered seed and 60% of the global pesticide market. Thanks to recent acquisitions, they now own 23% of the commercial seed market. In 1999, almost 80% of total global transgenic acreage was planted in GMO soy, corn, cotton and canola. Until then, farmers could spray herbicides before planting, but not after, as herbicides would kill the intended crop. The other 20% of genetically modified acreage is planted with crops that produce pesticides. Monsanto’s "New Leaf" potato kills potato beetles, but is itself registered as a pesticide with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The five largest biotech companies in the world are also the five largest herbicide companies. GMOs ensure a continuous and ever-expanding market for their agrochemicals. [26]

Under current policy, the government provides large subsidies to farmers to produce grains, in particularly corn and soybeans. Livestock producers use corn and soy as a base for animal feed as they are protein rich and fatten up the animals. They are also cheap (due to government subsidies.) Livestock consumes 47% of the soy and 60% of the corn produced in the US. [27] See also FDA.

Human rights & environmental abuses

Activists demand Syngenta leave Brazil

In December of 2007, hundreds of activists broke into Novartis' subsidiary Syngenta's agrochemical plant in Sao Paulo, Brazil. According to a company spokesperson, 50 employees were expelled and production was shut down. Members of the Landless Rural Workers’ Movement (MST) and its allied group Via Campesina, destroyed genetically-modified corn and soy seedlings at a Syngenta farm in the northeastern state of Ceara. The groups accused Syngenta of attacking landless workers and violating environmental laws and demanded that Syngenta leave Brazil.

Activist shot and killed protesting GMO fields

In October of 2007, an activist was shot and killed during a protest at a Syngenta farm in the southern Parana state. According to the MST, the farm illegally produced genetically modified crops (GMO)'s within a protected enviromental zone close to the internationally acclaimed Iguacu water falls. The Paraná State Federal Justice decided that experiments with GMOs in the surroundings of the Iguaçú National Park are illegal. According to Judge Vanessa Hoffman, the park has a a 10 km buffer zone and the company was fined R$ 1 million by Brazilian environmental authorities.

Syngenta is the world's largest agrochemical company. According to a company statement, it was "dismayed by the occupations" but denied any participation in the October shooting death. According to activists, the company's private security force at the farm were responsible for the shooting death of Valmir Mota de Oliveira. The MST and other groups frequently occupy farms, block highways, torch crops and stage rallies to pressure the government to give land to the poor. In response, landowners hire armed guards and hit squads to repel invasions. Landless militants have also blocked railroads run by Brazilian mining companies, interupting the flow of iron ore to foreign markets.

Industry and agricultural lobbyists have urged the government to crack down on landless movements, as they "undermine investment conditions in Brazil." [28]

Acquisitions, mergers, spin-offs & sell offs

  • Novartis was founded in 1996 in a merger of the Ciba-Geigy and Sandoz pharmaceutical companies. [29]
  • After the merger, Novartis reorganized its activities. The company spun out its chemicals activities as Ciba Specialty Chemicals, which became an independent company in January of 1997.[30]
  • Novartis combined its agricultural division with that of AstraZeneca to create Syngenta in November 2000, the first global group focusing exclusively on agribusiness. [31]
  • In 2003, Novartis created a new company named Sandoz, a subsidiary that bundles its generic drug production by reusing the predecessor brand.[32]
  • In April of 2006, Novartis acquired the California based Chiron Corporation. Chiron was formerly divided into three units: Chiron Vaccines and Chiron Blood Testing became Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics. Chiron BioPharmaceuticals was integrated into Novartis Pharmaceuticals. [33]
  • The company formerly owned Gerber baby products, which it sold to Nestlé in September of 2007. [34]

Personnel & board

Board of directors

Executive committee

Permanent attendees

Other Senior Management


Novartis International AG
Lichtstrasse 35

Phone: +41-61-324-1111

Novartis Corporation
608 Fifth Ave.
New York, NY 10020

Phone: 212-307-1122

Web address:

Articles & sources

SourceWatch articles


  1. Welcome to Novartis, Novartis, January 2010
  2. Syngenta: A Corporate Profile, Corporate Watch, November 2002
  3. Key Novartis AG Financials, Hoovers, accessed January 2011
  4. Welcome to Novartis, Novartis, accessed December 2009
  5. Welcome to Novartis: Pharmaceuticals, accessed December 2009
  6. Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics Division", Novartis, accessed December 2008
  7. About Sandoz: Novartis' generic pharmaceuticals division, Norvartis, accessed January 2009
  8. "Novartis' Over-the-counter product line", Novartis, accessed January 2009
  9. Novartis Animal Health, Novartis, accessed January 2009
  10. CIBA Vision, Novartis, accessed January 2009
  11. American Legislative Exchange Council, "Solutions for the States," 38th Annual Meeting agenda, on file with CMD, August 3-6, 2011
  12. Facility Reports and Information: Novartis Animal Vaccines, Inc., Larchwood, IA,Stop Animal Experimentation NOW!, accessed January 2011
  13. Facility Reports and Information: Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, East Hanover, NJ, SAEN, accessed January 2011
  14. Inside Customers,, accessed December 2009
  15. Novartis - A Chronicle of Crimes,, acessed January 2010
  16. Mark Townsend Exposed: secrets of the animal organ lab, The Observer, April 2003
  17. Dairies of Despair: The Secret History of pig-to-primate organ transplants, Uncaged Campaigns, accessed January 2010
  18. Dairies of Despair: Further Reading, Uncaged Campaigns, accessed January 2010
  19. PETA Names the 10 Worst CEOs for Animals in Laboratories, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, accessed December 2009
  20. Xenografts: Frankenstein Science, PETA Media Center, accessed January 2010
  21. Journal of Neural Transmission 2007: 114, 239-248
  22. Neuro Report 2001: 12, 1693-1698
  23. Novartis: A Chronicle of Crimes: Animal Torture,, accessed January 2010
  24. Novartis painkiller banned after deaths,, August 2007
  25. Syngenta: A Corporate Profile, Corporate Watch, November 2002
  26. John Robbins Genetic Engineering, Part I, The Food Revolution, accessed December 2009
  27. The Issues: Corn and Soy, Sustainable Table, accessed December 2009
  28. Raymond Colitt, Vicki Allen Brazil's landless peasants occupy Syngenta plants, Reuters, December 2007
  29. "Novartis History", Novartis, accessed December 2008.
  30. "About Us", Ciba, accessed December 2008
  31. "Company History", Syngenta, accessed December 2008.
  32. "Return of a traditional name: Novartis Generics rebranded as Sandoz", Sandoz Media Release, May 20, 2003
  33. "Chiron Shareholders Approve Novartis Acquisition", Media Release, April 19 2006
  34. "Novartis completes divestment program with transfer of Gerber baby foods business", Novartis, Media Release, September 2007
  35. "BASF makes offer to acquire Ciba", Media Release, September 15, 2008.
  36. "BASF buys Swiss specialty chemicals maker Ciba", International Herald Tribune, September 15, 2008.
  37. People: Board of Directors, Novartis, accessed January 2010
  38. People: Executive Committee, Novartis, accessed January 2010
  39. Company Description: Novartis AG, Hoovers, accessed December 2009
  40. Company Description: Novartis Corporation, Hoovers, accessed January 2010

External resources