Early biotech (1930-1984)
Having transferred insulin production to the independent Nordisk Insulin Foundation in 1925, LEO Pharma drug development changes focus to hormone products. The company works systematically on isolating hormones from the urine of pregnant women and horses. The knowledge gained puts LEO Pharma in a good position to produce competitive drugs for the next half a century.
Kongsted, the founder of LEO Pharma and key contributor to the Danish medical industry, dies in 1939. At the onset of WWII, with Europe in turmoil, Kongsted’s son-in-law, Dr. Knud Abildgaard, takes over the company’s helm. Near the end of the war, LEO Pharma becomes the first company outside the UK and the US to produce penicillin – and the company supplies penicillin to the resistance while keeping production secret from the German occupying forces.
It is the year of 1945 and LEO Pharma employs more than 200 people and has an annual turnover of MDKK 3.7. The LEO price list contains approximately 230 branded products.
Post-war, LEO Pharma launches a succession of competitive drugs to improve the lives of people with atopic dermatitis, impetigo and kidney complaints all over the world. From 1949 to 1959, LEO Pharma moves all production to its current headquarters in Ballerup, Denmark, and begins exporting pharmaceutical products. During the course of the following 25 years, nine affiliate offices are established globally, and a number of pharmaceutical drugs still on the market today, are launched.