Origins of the pharmaceutical industry (1908-1929)
Two pharmacists, August Kongsted and Anton Antons, buy a pharmacy in Copenhagen. Using the latest advances in industrial processes, they set up pharmaceutical production in the basement under their new shop.
Although the pharmacy has been known as ‘LEO’ since 1620, the two ambitious chemists register the name as a trademark in 1909. They already have a logo: a painting by artist Anna Rink inspired by an Assyrian bas-relief at the Louvre. The LEO Pharma logo is born.
In 1910, the total number of employees is three. In 1912, LEO Pharma markets its very first product, the painkiller Albyl®, which is for centuries the most popular painkiller in Denmark. In 1914, the company takes its first step to become international with the establishment of its first affiliate, AB LEO Helsingborg in Sweden.
With the first exports of Digisolvin LEO® in 1917, LEO Pharma helps establish the Danish pharmaceutical industry. Digisolvin LEO® is the first Danish drug to be exported. When Anton Antons dies in a road accident in 1920, work continues under the ownership of August Kongsted. Shortly afterwards, LEO Pharma funds ground-breaking research by August Krogh and H.C. Hagedorn to produce the first batches of insulin in Denmark.