Novartis gets tangled in chemical weapons controversy

June 26, 2019

Critics have taken aim at Novartis for its ties to a company that bought APIs in Syria that could have been used to make chemical weapons. 

According to reports in Swiss newspapers, a Syrian drugmaker called Mediterranean Pharmaceutical Industries (MPI) bought APIs from the world’s largest chemicals distributer, Brenntag, including diethylamine and isopropanol. Novartis was implicated in the transaction because it uses MPI as a CMO for several products including a pain relief gel for skin cream. 

Several NGOs have complained that the APIs could have been used to make chemical weapons. Novartis responded to the controversy by saying that it provided global regulatory bodies with manufacturing documents for its deals with MPI, and that Novartis did not directly export the APIs to Syria. Brenntag has also stated that it followed regulatory protocol and that the ingredients were for pharmaceutical products, not weapons. 

Read the full Reuters report