Novartis, which opened its $1.2 billion flu vaccine plant in Holly Springs in November, has its eyes on a new prize.
The Swiss pharmaceutical company announced Monday that it plans to take over Alcon, the world's largest eye-care company, by buying the 77 percent it doesn't already own for $38.5 billion.
Novartis will purchase the stake from Nestle to expand its share of the market for eye-care with new products such as Opti-Free contact lens cleaners, equipment used for eye surgery and treatments for glaucoma. Alcon also is based in Switzerland, and has its U.S. headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas. The company employs some 15,000 people worldwide.
"It's an excellent opportunity to acquire the world leader in eye care," Novartis CEO Daniel Vasella said on a conference call with reporters. “Overall I think it's a great strategic fit and I'm very optimistic about the outlook for the business."
As with most other large drug makers, Novartis is looking for new products to offset slowing sales as its best selling medicines lose patent protection.
The company expects to begin commercial production of flu vaccines in Holly Springs by 2013, although the facility will be running before then to secure regulatory approval.