BASEL, Switzerland and KUNDL, Austria, Jan. 21, 2002 (PRIMEZONE) -- Novartis (NYSE:NVS) today unveiled plans to unite its 14 Generics company brands under a single global umbrella name, "Sandoz," to strengthen recognition and leverage share of voice in the highly competitive marketplace for generics (off-patent medicines). The initiative capitalises on the strong reputation of the Sandoz name, which still commands a high level of awareness and trust among physicians, pharmacists and patients.

Christian Seiwald, CEO of Novartis Generics, explained: "We have achieved outstanding growth in recent years and have made a number of strategic acquisitions to become the second largest generics company in the world. As a result we have operated under an increasing number of different brands without global identity or recognition. Unified international branding sets a milestone in our strategy to strengthen and harmonise our global business. The Sandoz name underscores our reputation for highest quality and innovation, adding more than a century of heritage. We want Sandoz to become the world's clear number-one brand for affordable generic medicines and active ingredients."

All Novartis Generics companies, including Geneva Pharmaceuticals in the U.S., Azupharma in Germany, and Biochemie in Austria, the Business Unit's largest single company, will be rebranded with the new name Sandoz. For the time being, Lek will keep its name as agreed between the management of the two companies.

In recent years, Novartis Generics has achieved outstanding growth, with sales jumping a record 26% to CHF 2 433 million in 2001 and a further 24% in the first nine months of 2002. The Business Unit comprises a number of companies that produce high-quality generics and active ingredients for the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry. Because of its expertise in production and formulation, Novartis Generics can offer a broad range of high-quality pharmaceuticals at competitive prices. The Business Unit employs more than 11 000 people worldwide.

Novartis AG (NYSE:NVS) is a world leader in healthcare with core businesses in pharmaceuticals, consumer health, generics, eye-care, and animal health. In 2001, the Group's businesses achieved sales of CHF 32.0 billion and a net income of CHF 7.0 billion. The Group invested approximately CHF 4.2 billion in R&D. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis Group companies employ about 74,000 people and operate in over 140 countries around the world. For further information please consult http://www.novartis.com.

This release contains certain "forward-looking statements" relating to the Group's business, which can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology such as "to unite," "to strengthen," "plans," "strategy," "will," or similar expressions Such statements reflect the current plans or views of the Group with respect to future events and are subject to certain risks, uncertainties and assumptions. Management's expectations could be affected by, among other things, competition in general, and other risks and factors referred to in Novartis AG's Form 20-F on file with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Should one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize, or should underlying assumptions prove incorrect, actual results may vary materially from those described herein as anticipated, believed, estimated or expected.

Novartis International AG, Basel
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