About Us

Sandoz History


Sandoz history dates back more than 120 years, during which time it has transformed itself from a small diversified chemical company to the world’s second largest producer of high-quality generic pharmaceuticals and global leader in biosimilars and differentiated products. Throughout our long and distinguished history, we have been led by dedicated and visionary individuals who have always aspired to be one step ahead and who have delivered success through high-quality products and services.

Learn about our proud history and heritage by reading about our key historical milestones:

The Early Years 1886 – 1939

1886 – The Chemical Company Kern & Sandoz is set up in Basel by Dr. Alfred Kern (1850 – 1893) and Edouard Sandoz (1853 – 1928). The first dyes produced are alizarin blue and auramine.

1895 – The first pharmaceutical substance, antipyrine, a fever-controlling agent, is produced. The partnership is transformed into the joint-stock company “Chemische Fabrik vormals Sandoz”.

1899 – The company diversifies into sweetening agents with the start of saccharin production.

1911 – The first subsidiary is set up in England.

1917 – Prof. Arthur Stoll creates the Pharmaceutical Department and starts research in this field. He isolates Ergotamin from the corn-fungus ergot in 1918, which is introduced under the trade name Gynergen in 1921.

1918 – The first subsidiary in the USA is founded.

1929 – Calcium Sandoz is introduced – a breakthrough product that lays the foundation for modern calcium therapy. The Chemicals Department (for textiles, leather and paper) is also launched.

1939 – The company name is changed from Chemical Company Kern & Sandoz to Sandoz Ltd and first steps are made into the agribusiness. The first product developed is the pesticide Copper Sandoz, introduced in 1943.

The Start of Anti-infectives 1946 – 1963

1946 – Biochemie is founded in Kundl, Austria, in order to produce and supply scarce, urgently needed penicillin for the Austrian population.

1948 – Despite limited facilities, the ambitious research team at Biochemie achieves what remained out of reach to many others: the domestic production of the new “wonder drug” penicillin.

1951 – Two researchers at Biochemie, Brandi and Margreiter, break new ground by discovering acid-resistant penicillin. For the first time, penicillin can be administered orally. The discovery sets off further development and rapid growth of the company.

1963 – Sandoz Ltd. acquires Austrian Biochemie GmbH, representing the beginning of large-scale production of antibiotics and substances developed on the basis of biotechnology.

Expansion and Diversification 1964 – 1982

1964 – The first research center outside Switzerland is established in East Hanover, NJ, United States, followed by the Sandoz Research Institute in Vienna, Austria, in 1970 and the Sandoz Institute for Medical Research in London, United Kingdom in 1985.

1967 – Company merges with Wander Ltd. and diversifies into the dietetics business (Ovaltine, Isostar), acquiring Delmark in 1972, Wasa (the Swedish crisp bread producer) in 1982 and Gerber Babyfood in 1994.

1975 – The seeds market is entered through the acquisition of the American Rogers Seeds Co., followed by that of Northrup King in 1976, the Dutch Zaadunie Group in 1980 and the Swedish seeds company iHillesh’g in 1989.

1977 – The anti-allergic drug Zaditen is introduced.

1981 – The Sandoz Institute for Medical Research is founded on the premises of University College, London, United Kingdom.

1982 – The immunosuppressant Sandimmun is introduced, followed by Neoral in 1994.

A New Corporate Structure 1990 – 1998

1990 – Sandoz Ltd. becomes a holding company with a new corporate structure.

1995 – A new operating structure is created at Sandoz, which comprises three sectors: Pharmaceuticals, Nutrition and Agribusiness/Chemicals.

1996 – Ciba and Sandoz are integrated in one of the largest corporate mergers in history to form Novartis. Biochemie becomes the global Headquarters of Generics, unifying Geneva, Rolab, Multipharma and Azurpharma.

1997 – Sandoz enters the Mexican market under the name of Suipharm.

1998 – Sandoz enters the Spanish market under the name of Geminis.

A Global Generics Business 2000 – 2013

2000 – Novartis Generics acquires BASF Pharma’s European generics business through which it gains entry to the markets of France and Italy with GNR Pharma and the UK with Lagap. Apotheccon is also acquired in the United States and Grandis in Germany.

2001 – Sandoz enters the Argentinian market under the name of Labinca.

2002 – Sandoz acquires Lek Pharmaceuticals d.d., Slovenia’s largest pharmaceutical company with a strong presence in Central and Eastern Europe.

2003 – Novartis unites its generics businesses under one single global brand as known today: Sandoz. The Amifarma S.L. production plant in Palafolls, located near Barcelona, Spain is also acquired.

2004 – Through acquisition of Sabex, Sandoz establishes a new presence in Canada, the sixth largest generics market worldwide. A new operational hub in the Nordic region is founded through its acquisition of Durascan, the generic subsidiary of Astra-Zeneca in Denmark.

2005 – Sandoz acquires HEXAL and Eon Labs, two other premier generics companies, strengthening its market position globally and achieving a top position in key markets, particularly the U.S. and Germany.

2006 – Sandoz becomes the first generics pharmaceutical company to receive approval for a biosimilar product in the EU and US. Omnitrope®, a recombinant human growth hormone, approved by the EMEA (European Medicines Agency) also becomes the first biosimilar to receive approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

2007 – Sandoz gains EU market approval for the world’s first complex biosimilar, Binocrit®, a follow-on version of life-saving anemia medicine epoetin alfa. The approval marks a key milestone in Sandoz’s efforts to bring state-of-the-art biosimilars to patients around the globe.

2008 – Sandoz receives EU market approval for its third biosimilar medicine Zarzio® (filgrastim), indicated for use in treating neutropenia, marking another important milestone in its efforts to bring affordable high-quality biopharmaceuticals to patients worldwide.

2009 – Sandoz completes acquisition of EBEWE Pharma’s specialty generic injectables business, improving worldwide access to affordable injectable cancer medicines and paving the way for the creation of a global center of excellence in generic oncology injectables.

2010 – Sandoz acquires Oriel Therapeutics of the US, entering the market of respiratory inhalables, adding a third pillar to its differentiated value-added portfolio. Sandoz’s generic enoxaparin is also approved by the US FDA as a fully substitutable generic in the US, indicating the FDA’s growing confidence in the ability to designate complex non-patented molecules as interchangeable.

2011 – Sandoz Japan announces generic pharmaceutical alliance with Nipro Corporation, focusing on a broad range of cross-licensing and co-development opportunities for the Japanese generics market. Through the acquisition of Alcon’s US generics business, Falcon Pharmaceuticals, Sandoz positions itself as the global #1 in generic ophthalmics.

2012 – Sandoz acquires Fougera Pharmaceuticals, positioning Sandoz as #1 in generic (topical) dermatology. With innovative products and affordable, high-quality generic medicines focused on skin conditions, Fougera has strong generic dermatology development and manufacturing expertise, particularly in the area of semi-solid forms such as creams and ointments, as well as a well-known branded business, PharmaDerm.


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