ZAGREB, Oct 4 (Reuters) - Croatian drugs concern Pliva unveiled its $100 million high-tech research and development institute on Friday, saying it would focus further on finding new drugs and improving generic ones.
Pliva, the leading pharmaceuticals firm in central and eastern Europe, will formally open the institute next week and Chief Executive Officer Zeljko Covic said it was further proof Pliva was "an innovative, research-oriented firm. It will take us into the 21st century".
R&D Manager Radan Spaventi said research would focus on creating Pliva's own new drugs and developing generic drugs "with added value".
"That means improving existing drugs. These are somewhere between new drugs and pure generic drugs and require sophisticated technology," Spaventi told journalists.
"Companies focused on purely generic drugs cannot be competitive in this segment, where we see the biggest room for growth," he said.
Spaventi said Pliva was currently working on more than 10 new chemical entities -- mostly for infectious and inflammatory diseases -- and had one drug in Phase I clinical trial and two in Phase II trial.
"We are confident that azithromycin will not be an isolated success," he said, referring to Pliva's blockbuster wide-spectre antibiotic, marketed as Zythromax by licensing partner Pfizer Inc in the Americas.
Pliva has been under constant pressure from analysts and shareholders to come up with new drugs that could replace income from azitrhomycin, once its patent protection expires in 2005.
The company posted a solid rise in half-year net profits, thanks to higher sales, foreign acquisitions and currency gains and forecast further growth for the rest of the year.
It has six smaller research centres in India, Poland, Germany, France, the Czech Republic and the United States, Spaventi said. >>