Hungarian pharmacist Gedeon Richter files an application to purchase a pharmacy in downtown Budapest. It is regarded as the birthplace of our company and that of the Hungarian pharmaceutical industry as a whole.
Gedeon Richter was born into a family of landowning grain merchants in the Hungarian village of Ecséd on 23 September 1872. Having lost his parents at an early age, Gedeon Richter was raised by his maternal grandparents. He received his pharmacist’s diploma in 1895, followed by a two-year obligatory training in the field. From 1897 he travelled extensively in Europe in order to acquire experience in pharmacy practices and pharmaceutical manufacturing. A believer in innovative therapies and the newly discovered organotherapy, he used his inheritance to buy the Sas Pharmacy (which is still owned by the company) at the end of 1901. He set up a biological preparative laboratory and a laboratory for conducting chemical experiments in the pharmacy’s basement, and he began to produce and sell restoratives and various organotherapeutic hormone preparations made from animal organs.
Gedeon Richter's first organotherapy product, an adrenaline-containing therapy with antihypertensive and hemostatic effects, is launched.
The discovery of adrenaline accelerated the development of organotherapy, so in 1902 Richter's adrenaline-containing preparation, Tonogen Suprarenale, was launched.
Gedeon Richter soon outgrows the pharmacy as his preparations gain quick popularity. He decides to buy a plot of land in the outskirts of Budapest.
The new factory was built in record time in Budapest's Kőbánya district. The new site housed, among others, an office building and a state-of-the-art pharmaceutical plant, in which tabletting and packaging rooms as well as laboratories are set up. The new plant represented a significant increase in capacity compared to the small laboratory at the Eagle Pharmacy.
Establishment of the first foreign representation in Italy. Using his foreign contacts, Gedeon Richter gradually expands the company's sales network.
Gedeon Richter recognised the potential of export sales early on, and made it his mission. The first agency contract was signed in 1908 with Hotz in Milan for the sale of Richter products in Italy. This was followed in 1910 by a contract with two pharmacists in Berlin, who were given the exclusive right to market and sell certain Richter preparations in Germany and the Netherlands. Representation in Turkey was established in the same year.
Every spring, Gedeon Richter jumped in his Lancia to visit his European representative offices and business partners. He considered the trip his annual leave.
Hyperol is launched. The effective disinfectant soon became very successful, it even became part of the military kit during World War I.
Hyperol was the company’s first synthetic product. Czech chemist Vladimir Stanek discovered how to stabilize hydrogen peroxide compounds. Gedeon Richter recognized the practical significance of Stanek’s discovery and bought the patent and then marketed the product in tablet form under the brand name Hyperol. Hyperol had the same effect as liquid hydrogen peroxide, but it had the significant advantage that it was easy to handle and store, it did not decompose, but at the same time it was completely soluble in water. It was also very economical, as it was always possible to make just the right amount and concentration of solution. Because of these advantageous properties, it was preferred in all fields of surgery and then played a significant role in many branches of medicine as well as in World War I as a convenient, solid disinfectant. Between the two world wars, Hyperol became an important export product, with a number of “Hyperol Representations” established worldwide. Hyperol tablets were manufactured by the company until 1997.
Richter begins to market Kalmopyrin, an antipyretic and analgesic that is still manufactured today.
Bayer's Aspirin tablets were launched in the early 20th century. The tablet was insoluble in water, making it difficult for children to administer. This gave the idea to Gedeon Richter to eliminate this problem by salt formation. Three different formulations were subjected to clinical trials, of which Kalmopyrin proved to be the best, so it was marketed in 1912. The product gained great popularity in a short time.
The company is transformed into a family joint-stock company called Gedeon Richter Chemical Factory with a registered capital of 50 million crowns.
The first biological laboratory in the Hungarian pharmaceutical industry was set up at Richter and an independent analytical laboratory was created in order to ensure quality.
At the end of the 1920s Gedeon Richter already had about 150 organotherapy products on the market. The experience acquired in the course of their development later made it possible to market various hormone products competitively at the global level.
Discovered in 1921, insulin was produced in Hungary as early as 1923 by researcher Sándor Lasztovica, albeit in small quantities. Large-scale production was first started in the country by Richter in 1926, and was continuous until 1944. Insulin played a key role in the development of the quality management system at Richter. The discoverers of insulin (Banting and McLeod) did not patent their invention, but made it available for public good with the stipulation that its production can only take place with compliance to high quality standards. This meant an extremely strict quality control system, which, while originally aimed only at insulin production, brought a new approach to quality in the life of the factory.
The company wins the Grand Prix at the Barcelona International Exhibition for the development of the Hormogland product line.
The increasing popularity of organotherapeutic preparations both in Hungary and abroad encouraged the company, which had become a family-owned limited company, to expand this product line with combined ingredients. It was a business trick to market these under the collective name of HORMOGLAND, supplemented by the initial letters of the organs that were used. These were very popular, especially abroad.
By this time a worldwide trade and representation network had been established, which ensured the distribution of the company's products in nearly a hundred countries.
Richter is declared a defense plant. Reduced autonomy, declining import and export activities characterize this period.
The period 1939-43 was one of the most dynamic periods in Richter’s development. It was an era fraught with grave difficulties, as the outbreak of the war fundamentally changed the life of the company. The solid, predictable leadership of previous decades was replaced by the continuous struggle to adopt to wartime management. Increasingly stricter official regulations restricted the firm’s autonomy. New pricing regulations, exchange control legislation and constant disruptions of export-import flows had serious effects.
Along with the war, politics also intruded into the company’s affairs. As a result of the Jewish Laws and the state’s concurrent termination of equal rights, Gedeon Richter resigned as chairman of the board, but retained his position as CEO and was able to continue working until 1941.
Founder Gedeon Richter dies.
Because of his importance to the company, the authorities allowed Gedeon Richter to work as a consultant, and in August 1944 he was also exempted from the provisions of the Jewish Laws. Richter’s Board of Directors resigned in the wake of the German occupation of Hungary. Meanwhile Gedeon Richter, despite having a Swiss passport, refused to leave the country. He came under Swedish protection when the pro-Nazi Arrow Cross Party came to power, but at the end of December 1944 an Arrow Cross detachment rounded up Richter and others and shot them into the Danube.
The company is nationalised and planned economy begins. Richter’s finances are centralised, its research activities are terminated, and export activities transferred to a trade company.
One of the basic tenets of planned economy was the specialization of tasks. First, the company's independent import and export activities were transferred to the Medimpex Foreign Trade Company, which was established specifically for this purpose. Later, research was also centralized, arguing that a factory should concentrate on manufacturing, and research should be the sole responsibility of the Pharmaceutical Research Institute set up for this purpose. The next step in the planned management was product profiling, with the aim of eliminating competition between companies and parallel production. As a result, Richter was entrusted with the production of medicines from plants and animals.
After the nationalization, the company was renamed the Richter National Pharmaceutical and Chemical Company, and later the Kőbánya Pharmaceutical Factory.
Patenting the production of vitamin B12 by fermentation. The company’s researchers develop a method by which the vitamin can be produced in large scale in a cost-effective manner.
In the 1950s, international research began to focus on the economical production of vitamin B12. Richter also joined this competition with the establishment of the Biochemistry Laboratory led by Dr. Béla Molnár. As the sludge from the sewage treatment plants was proven to contain B12, research was started in this area. Research and development had two targets: one aimed at increasing bacterial ability to produce vitamin B12, and the other aimed at efficient extraction of the vitamin produced. Dr. Béla Molnár received the Kossuth Prize for his work on the project.
The Company’s first oral contraceptive is marketed.
Thanks to the the fast-paced, excellent work of Richter's research staff, barely three years after the first oral contraceptive appeared in the USA, the Hungarian pill was already available. Subsequently, the primary goal of in-house research was to achieve the same effect with as little active ingredient content as possible and to make the active ingredient profile adapt to the hormonal changes in the female cycle. Accordingly, better and more effective formulations were marketed over time.
Richter’s most successful 20th-century original product, Cavinton, which stimulates cerebral circulation, is put on the market.
Cavinton was the product of more than twenty years of research and development. Pharmacist Kálmán Szász, then head of the Phytochemistry Laboratory, started researching vincamine in 1955, and then worked on large-scale production. It was in 1959 that the product appeared on the market under the brand Devincan and with an antihypertensive indication. The molecule looked promising in other areas, so research continued. The goal was now to produce an original cerebral vasodilator that is specific, so it acts only in the brain and has a stronger vasodilator effect than vincamine. Lajos Kisfaludy joined the project to supervise the synthetic work. The new molecule, apovincaminic acid ethyl ester, was finally patented in 1973 as the product Cavinton. Its cerebral vasodilatory effect has been clearly demonstrated by clinicians. The preparation proved to be both a major achievement in innovation and a huge financial success.
Richter is transformed under the leadership of Erik Bogsch.
Erik Bogsch, the new CEO appointed on 1 November 1992, wanted to rehabilitate Richter, then heavily indebted, without state aid, on his own. The new strategy demanded the enhancement of traditional innovation, more economical operations, and the increase of efficiency in general. This was conditional on the successful integration into the market economy, which required a fundamental change of approach, as well as the restructuring of the company. The basic tenets were export orientation, while maintaining and increasing its position in the domestic market, high quality in terms of both APIs and finished dosage products, and the importantce of proprietary research and development. According to the new strategy, Richter must be a marketing-oriented organisation based on strong research and development activities in the long run.
Richter is the first pharmaceutical company in the Central and Eastern European region to list its shares on the stock market.
The company’s registered ordinary shares were listed on the Budapest Stock Exchange on 9 November 1994 and quickly became one of the blue chips. The 1994, 1995 and 1997 privatisation programmes led to a gradual reduction in the Hungarian State’s stake in the company. By the end of the privatisation process, the Company’s share capital had increased threefold.
In 2019, Richter celebrated its 25-year-anniversary on the Budapest Stock Exchange, which was commemorated by a solemn ring of the bell at the stock exchange marking the start of trading.
Regional expansion begins, with manufacturing subsidiaries being established in Romania, Poland and Russia.
In 1998, Richter's management formulated a new strategy aimed at developing the company into the region's leading, Hungarian-controlled, multinational pharmaceutical company. One means to achieve this was foreign market expansion through acquisitions or setting up of manufacturing sites.
Richter-Helm BioLogics is established in Germany.
Founded in 1997 as Strathmann Biotec, the company was acquired by a joint venture of Gedeon Richter Plc. and Helm AG in 2007. Richter-Helm operates a development facility located in Hamburg and two GMP manufacturing facilities for microbial production in Hannover and Bovenau.
Richter-Helm offers highly specialised contract development and manufacturing services for the pharmaceutical and biotechnological industries. Additionally, Richter-Helm is seeking interesting biopharmaceutical development projects for its own pipeline and for co-development with partners.
Richter further strengthens its women’s healthcare business by acquiring PregLem, a Swiss company specialising in the treatment of gynecological disorders and infertility, and the contraceptive portfolio of German Grünenthal.
The acquisitions offered a unique opportunity to enhance Richter’s existing gynecology business, providing a boost to the company’s specialty pharma transformation by expanding its long-standing expertise and product portfolio in the field. In addition, the agreements allowed Richter to establish its own sales and marketing network in key Western European markets and strengthen its presence in Europe.
Richter opens its Biotechnology Plant in Debrecen.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, Debrecen Mayor Lajos Kósa and Gedeon Richter CEO Erik Bogsch were present at the opening ceremony for Richter’s new HUF 25 billion Biotechnology Plant on 19 April 2012. The Biotechnology Plant was built with government aid in an easily accessible industrial zone furnished with all the necessary infrastructure. The government provided a financial contribution of HUF 1.384 billion in order to carry out the project. The state-of-the-art plant created 120 new jobs for highly qualified professionals, whose training began years earlier in cooperation with the University of Debrecen.
Expansion in Latin America.
As part of its strategy to rebalance regional presence, and at the same time to expand the Women’s Healthcare franchise on a global scale, Richter began to strengthened its position in such fast growing regions as Latin America. Richter acquired a stakeholding in a local company in Brazil with a gradual buy-out option. It also initiated in the same year a takeover of its local partner in Mexico. Together with the fully owned Columbian affiliate all these initiatives were focused on the registration of specialty products belonging to the Women’s Healthcare product portfolio as well as the setting up of a related sales network. Next Richter acquired Mediplus, a well-established marketing company based in Curaçao, which covers through its subsidiaries a number of countries in the Latin American region, namely Ecuador, Peru, Chile and Bolivia. It also sells pharmaceutical products to Central American and Caribbean countries.
Richter’s proprietary antipsychotic therapy, which was earlier launched in the US, wins the Innovation Grand Prix in Hungary.
Cariprazine is an orally administered atypical antipsychotic drug that was approved by the FDA for treating adult patients suffering from bipolar I disorder associated with manic and mixed episodes and schizophrenia. The product is also approved in the EU for the treatment of adult schizophrenic patients.
The key result of the product innovation honoured by this award is an original drug primarily manufactured in Hungary that was developed by Hungarian scientific researchers and developers, and which has a marketing authorisation for over 70% of the global pharmaceutical market. With this unique innovation representing high added value, Richter has realised an ideal development concept captured by the slogan "invented and made in Hungary".
Gedeon Richter markets its first in-house developed biosimilar therapy, aimed at treating osteoporosis.
Teriparatide is biosimilar to the biologically active fragment of the human parathyroid hormone, it replaces the natural hormone and stimulates bone formation. Teriparatide is used for the treatment of osteoporosis as it reduces the risk of bone fracture in various patient groups. Biosimilar teriparatide was developed by Richter-Helm BioTec GmbH & Co. KG. and launched by Gedeon Richter in late August 2019, following the patent expiry of the reference product.
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