Novartis CEO plans to continue investing in Alcon Puurs
Alcon, a subsidiary of pharmaceutical giant Novartis and owner of the world’s biggest eye medication production unit in Puurs, is currently investigating further expansion opportunities in Belgium. One such possibility is the manufacture of biotechnology drugs such as the ocriplasmine developed by Thrombogenics and sold under the brand name Jetrea in the US. Alcon itself distributes the medicine in Europe and other continents. “We are considering the possibilities of manufacturing biotechnology drugs here,” said Novartis' CEO Joe Jimenez during his visit to the production site in Puurs yesterday. This was his first visit to Belgium since his appointment as CEO in 2010. “The site in Puurs is a flagship for Alcon and Novartis,” he said of the factory which employs a staff of 1 100. “We currently invest 20 million each year and we plan to continue along this vein as long as the investment climate remains positive. And I see the innovation and pharmaceutical policy in Flanders is in good shape.” Alcon’s site in Puurs manufactures products ranging from eye drops and ointments to more complex products for eye operations. This is also their European distribution hub for Jetrea. Alcon invested 8 million euros to cope with the challenges of dispensing and packaging the drug, which requires a storage temperature of 20 degrees.