Richter Gedeon portre
The young Gedeon Richter at the time the factory was founded
The pharmacy was founded in 1887 by pharmacist Gyula Berthan. It was relocated in 1892 from 29 Márton utca to its current location at 105 Üllői út, where it still operates today. Sas Pharmacy was the place where the history of the Hungarian pharmaceutical industry began, thanks to Gedeon Richter. In 1901, he spent his inheritance on buying the pharmacy. He set up a laboratory suitable for the production of medicines in the basement, and began to produce his own products, primarily organotherapeutic drugs. The work going on here made it possible in 1907 to lay the foundations of an internationally renowned pharmaceutical factory in Kőbánya.
1902 – Tonogen
Tonogen Suprarenale was first marketed in 1902. It was an adrenaline-based product made from adrenal glands. Adrenaline was discovered by Japanese researchers barely a year earlier. Tonogen Suprarenale Richter was the first organotherapeutic drug produced in Hungary – previously, only foreign products were available. Richter also asked practitioners to perform comparative studies to compare his own products and foreign organotherapeutic drugs. The studies yielded a positive result: Richter’s drugs proved to be on an equal footing with the foreign ones, and even surpassed them in some cases in terms of purity and active substance content. The product could be used for vasoconstriction, raising blood pressure and haemostasia, so it played an important role in, for example, dental interventions and surgical procedures.
Announcement on the foundation of the factory
There was a growing demand for Richter products, and the Sas Pharmacy laboratory was no longer able to meet the increased demand. Therefore, Gedeon Richter decided to expand production on an industrial scale and establish a pharmaceutical factory. In the early 1900s, if you wanted to create an industrial facility in any district of Budapest, it had to be made public in an announcement. The permit for construction work was issued only if no objections were received from the public to the content of the announcement.
1907 Richter Gedeon vegyeszeti gyara1
1907 – Gedeon Richter’s chemical factory
In 1906, Gedeon Richter bought a 3,525 sqm plot at 63 Cserkesz utca in Kőbánya with the intention of founding a factory. After purchasing the property and obtaining the site license, as well as the trade license, implementation began (planning, construction) in 1907, and at the beginning of 1908, the conditions for industrial production were all in place. 1.5-2 years after the purchase, the basic facilities needed for production were completed.
The factory’s first synthetic product was not a drug, but an effective disinfectant, a solid crystalline compound of hydrogen peroxide and urea. Czech chemist Vladimir Stanek discovered how to stabilise decomposable hydrogen peroxide. Recognising its practical significance, Gedeon Richter purchased Stanek’s patent and marketed the product in 1911 under the brand name Hyperol in tablet form. The effect was the same as that of liquid hydrogen peroxide, but it had the significant advantage of being easy to handle and store due to its solid state, it did not decompose, it was completely soluble in water and was also economical because it was always possible to produce the right concentration and volume in line with actual demand. Due to its advantageous properties, the product had become popular in a short time: it was used more and more widely in all fields of surgery, as well as in many other branches of medicine. It played a significant role during World War I because it was included in the inventory of military equipment as an easy-to-handle, solid disinfectant.
1920 – Research Lab
When the company was founded, Gedeon Richter committed himself to the industrial development of organotherapy, and he continued his work successfully until the end of his life. Development was determined by continuous innovation and was driven by research. For a long time, research was overseen by Gedeon Richter himself, who diligently and regularly followed the Hungarian and foreign literature. The development and marketing of a planned drug was much simpler than it is today, as there were no official regulations, registration procedures, etc.
1927 – Organ processing
The organs used as the raw material for organotherapy were procured at slaughterhouses in Budapest. After obtaining various official permits, Richter signed a contract with them. Slaughterhouse workers received special training on how to remove organs and glands professionally and without damage, which were often very small. Their work was supervised by a specialist from the factory. The fresh organs were delivered daily to the factory and used immediately. The organs were prepared and selected by women trained in organ processing.
The symptoms of diabetes were already described in ancient Chinese and Roman sources. Over time, there had been many theoretical and practical attempts to cure the disease, but it was not until the second decade of the 20th century that a real breakthrough was achieved. The discovery of an effective cure came from two Canadian research physicians. In 1921, F.G. Banting and his colleague, J.J.R. MacLeod produced insulin, a drug that not only saved diabetics, but gave them an almost full life. They also developed a method to produce the new active agent safely in large quantities and in the same quality. The two physicians received a Nobel Prize for their invention as early as 1923. Since the two inventors immediately saw that their discovery could be of great service to all mankind, they did not patent it. In regard to the conditions of production and manufacture, however, they stipulated that insulin should only be made in the best-quality. Meeting these requirements, Richter started to produce insulin as early as 1926, and over the years, the company further developed the drug both in efficacy and purity.
1929 Expedicios raktar auto8
1929 – Expedition warehouse
Domestic sales of the new products were handled by the company itself, and the goods were delivered directly to pharmacies and hospitals. Magosix, the van in the picture, was manufactured by the Hungarian General Machine Factory (MÁG). The first vehicle rolled off the production line in 1927, which was based on an American model. It was powered by a 40 horse-power engine and was able to reach a top speed of 90 km/h using 10-12 litres of petrol per 100 km. The truly special feature of the vehicle – which we can hardly imagine today – was that in most cases, only the chassis was made at the factory. This meant that a functional unit was delivered to the customer, but no more than 2 (front) seats were mounted on the chassis. The bodywork, i.e. the car’s body, was manufactured completely separately, tailored to the needs of the customer and taking into account the future function of the vehicle. The bodies were most often made by manufacturers making carriages and horse-drawn carts.
1930 Richter termekek
1930 – Richter products
At the beginning of the 20th century, foreign pharmaceutical products were accepted as common, ‘proven’ drugs by Hungarian doctors and patients. Gedeon Richter had a pioneering role in overthrowing prejudices and getting domestic pharmaceutical products accepted over Austrian and German drugs. To this end, at the same time as production began in 1902, he employed medical sales representatives, creating a team of professionals, which was organised into an independent department in 1922.
sertamin 40 esevek
During and after World War II, animal protein – meat – became a scarce commodity and was in short supply. At the beginning of the war, Gedeon Richter and Dreher Brewery established a joint venture, Paracelsus Rt, which used a by-product of brewing, brewer’s yeast, as a food formula. (Dreher provided the raw material and the capital, while Richter provided the intellectual contribution in kind). The product was marketed as Sertamin. In addition to brewer's yeast, the product also contained vitamins and various vegetables, but did not contain any animal-derived ingredients. It changed meat-free foods into foods that tasted like meat, replacing the missing vitamins, proteins and minerals. A special cookbook was compiled for Sertamin, offering a variety of ways and recipes to use the food formula. In fact, there was even a ‘Sertamin Cooking Competition’ to promote the product, where the dishes made with Sertamin were tasted and evaluated by a professional jury. Of course, the product is no longer on the market today, but brewer's yeast has been a popular dietary supplement ever since, as it is rich in natural vitamin B.
1942 Gyari tuzolok
1942 – Plant firefighters
With the development of industry, large industrial plants have also appeared in Hungary. The owners of factories and plants realised that it was in their best interest to ensure fire protection for their facilities, so they set up their own corporate fire departments. These organisations are the predecessors of today’s facility fire departments.
1943 Angelo Rotta ersek latogatasanak emlektablaja
1943 – Agelo Rotta’s visit
The outbreak of World War II brought significant changes to the operation of the factory. Richter supported the medical supply of the civilian population and the military with drug donations. His dedicated activity was also noticed by the Vatican. In 1943, Angelo Rotta, the Apostolic Nuncio in Budapest, visited the factory and personally expressed the Pope’s thanks to Gedeon Richter for his generous donations of medicine to aid organisations. A marble plaque was made to commemorate the event, which was later destroyed by the Communists as a clerical manifestation.