Galenica AG

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Galenica AG

Postfach, Untermattweg 8
Telephone: (41 031) 990 81 11
Fax: (41 031) 990 81 12
Web site:

Public Company
Incorporated: 1927 as Collaboration Pharmaceutique S.A.
Employees: 2,500
Sales: CHF 2.09 billion ($1.73 billion) (2005)
Stock Exchanges: Swiss
Ticker Symbol: GALN
NAIC: 424210 Drugs and Druggists' Sundries Merchant Wholesalers; 325412 Pharmaceutical Preparation Manufacturing; 551112 Offices of Other Holding Companies

Galenica AG is one of Switzerland's leading retail and wholesale pharmaceuticals distribution groups; at the beginning of the 21st century, the company has also targeted development into a producer of pharmaceutical preparations. Galenica is organized into two primary divisions, Health and Pharma. Under its Health Division, the company groups its Logistics, Retail, and Health Care Information business units. Logistics is the company's largest business unit, generating nearly 78 percent of total company sales of CHF 2.1 billion ($1.75 billion) in 2005.

The group's logistics operations include Galexis, the Swiss market's leading wholesale supplier to the pharmaceutical and healthcare markets, and Alloga, which specializes in logistics services for these markets. The company's Retail operations include its Amavita pharmacy chain, one of the largest in Switzerland, as well as other retail operations, including nearly 20 Coop Vitality pharmacies in partnership with the Coop retail distribution group. The company's retail operations generate more than 15 percent of Galenica's turnover. The smallest part of the Health division is its Health Care Information unit, which supplies database and software and related services to the hospital, medical, and pharmaceutical markets. While the Health division remains Galenica's major revenue focus, the company's Pharma division is one of its fastest growing.

Created only in the mid-1990s, the Pharma division specializes in the development of treatments for anemia and related medical conditions, principally through the company's Vifor and Vifor International subsidiaries. Vifor's flagship products include Venofer, Maltofer and Ferinject; they place the company as the world leader in the market for iron therapies. Galenica's Pharma division also includes subsidiary Potter's Herbal Medicines, the United Kingdom's leading producer of licensed herbal medicines. Pharma generates more than 16 percent of Galenica's annual sales. Galenica is listed on the Swiss Stock Exchange and is led by chairman Paul Fasel.


For much of its existence, Galenica focused on the pharmaceutical distribution market in Switzerland. The company was created in 1927 as a central purchasing unit for a group of a dozen or so Swiss pharmacists. The company's original name was Collaboration Pharmaceutique S.A. The company quickly built up a strong catalog with a wide range of items from throughout Switzerland, as well as from international suppliers. By 1932, the company's strong growth and expansion beyond its original French-speaking market led it to move its headquarters to Bern and adopt a new name, Galenica AG.

Galenica continued adding to its product range, while also developing new services for its pharmacist clients. In 1938, for example, the company entered the health information field, offering scientific documentation services to its customers.

Galenica remained focused on the distribution sector in the postwar years. Nonetheless, the company developed new operational areas within the distribution sector. Galenica played a major role in introducing and distributing foreign pharmaceutical products to the Swiss market. By 1957, the company had launched a dedicated marketing unit for its catalog of foreign products, founding subsidiary Galenica Vertretungen. The acquisition of fellow Swiss group Panpharma that year gave the company a dedicated sales unit for a range of para-pharmaceutical products.


Galenica continued to seek new areas of operation to serve not only its pharmacist owners, but the Swiss pharmacy market in general. For example, cosmetics sales formed a significant part of a pharmacy's revenues, leading Galenica to found its own cosmetics sales and distribution unit, Adima Ltd. in 1972. In 1977, as the company celebrated its 50th anniversary, it became the first to publish an index of all pharmaceutical preparations then available in Switzerland. That work was originally known as the Codex Galenica, but later changed its name to the Swiss Drug Compendium.

By the end of the 1970s, Galenica had become a leader in Switzerland's wholesale pharmaceutical distribution market. Yet the group had new ambitions. In 1977, Galenica made its first entry into the manufacturing sector, acquiring Vifor AG and Cooper AG. Both companies were producers of pharmaceutical products and hospital supplies for the Swiss market.

Galenica sought further expansion and diversification for the 1980s. As part of that effort, the company launched its first public offeringof participation sharesin 1979, and converted its structure to that of a holding company. While Galenica remained controlled by its original pharmacists shareholder base, the public offering enabled the company to develop a new strategy based on the acquisition of new areas of operations.

One of the most significant acquisitions made by the company during this period was that of Laboratorien Hausmann AG, in 1983. The St. Gall-based company had been founded in 1872 as a manufacturer of pharmaceutical preparations. By the middle of the 20th century, Hausmann had evolved into a leading producer of infusion preparations, with strong areas of operation in the production of hospital supplies. Another important area of operation for Hausmann, and later for Galenica, was its entry into the production of iron supplements in the mid-1950s. By the 1970s, Hausmann had initiated a research and development effort focused on developing new iron replacement therapies.

Through the end of the 1980s, Galenica completed a number of additional acquisitions, including the purchases of Laboratoires Fandre and Bioluz. In 1988, the company added a majority stake in bandage manufacturer Internationalen Verbanstoff-Fabrik Schaffhausen.


The Galenica group follows a policy of sustainable development and thus creates long-term advantages for patients, its business partners, its shareholders and its staff. Thanks to their far-sightedness, the board of directors and the corporate executive committee anticipate market trends, weigh up chances and risks and steer the group towards a successful future in good time.


Into the early 1990s, however, Galenica decided to exit the market for hospital products, selling its line of infusion preparations and hospital supply products to B. Braun Melsungen Inc. in 1991. Instead, the company restructured its pharmaceuticals division, creating a new subsidiary, Vifor AG, focused on the production of over-the-counter medicines for the Swiss market. Galenica's Hausmann subsidiary then focused its own business on the development and production of iron supplements and iron replacement therapies, and later changed its name to Vifor International.

Galenica completed a new public offering in 1994, converting some of its participation shares for listing on the Swiss stock exchange. The company then changed its name to Galenica Holding. The company's wholesale distribution subsidiary, which became known as Galexis, opened two new distribution facilities in Zurich and Bern in that year, allowing the company to centralize its logistics operations to these sites, supplemented by a facility in Lausanne. The redeployment of the group's logistics base quickly enabled each facility to serve the full range of Galenica's customer markets, including pharmacies, hospitals, and doctors.

The mid-1990s set the scene for a new phase in Galenica's history. In 1996, the company adopted a new strategy to build its business around two primary divisions, Health, including the distribution and health information operations, and Pharma, focused on the development of iron replacement therapies. As part of that effort, the company strengthened its distribution business through the purchase of the Amidro Group, and its subsidiaries Pharmadro AG and Wyss Pharma AG in 1996. Following that acquisition, the company bought doctor suppliers Stotzer AG and Wyberg Apotheken AG, which were then merged with Wyss to form StotzerWybergWyss AG.

Galenica also boosted its Pharma division, launching an ambitious investment program in order to extend the group's range of pharmaceuticals. As part of that effort, the company acquired OTC and prescription drug producer Golaz AG in 1997. By 1999, the company had expanded its Pharma division again with the purchase of Medichemie Group, which specialized in the production of herbal medicines and related products.

The year 1999 also marked the group's full-scale public offering. This set the stage for the creation of a new partnership with fast-growing European wholesaler Alliance UniChem. In 1999, the two companies agreed to form a partnershipwith Alliance UniChem acquiring 20 percent of Galenica's stockproviding Alliance with entry to the Swiss market, and Galenica with a platform for its own international development. As part of the agreement, the companies formed a new pre-wholesaling joint venture, Alloga Europe.


A group of Swiss pharmacists create a central purchasing partnership, Collaboration Pharmaceutique S.A.
The company moves its headquarters to Bern and is renamed Galenica.
A sales and marketing subsidiary is established for foreign products; para-pharmaceutical products sales agent Panpharma is acquired.
Vifor AG and Cooper AG are acquired as part of entry into pharmaceuticals and hospital supply production.
Laboratorien Hausmann AG, producer of iron supplements and therapies and infusion products, is acquired.
Galenica sells its hospital supply operations and refocuses the Pharma division around iron preparations and OTC products, under the new subsidiary Vifor.
The company is restructured around the core Health and Pharma divisions.
Galenica forms a partnership with Alliance UniChem, founding the Alloga pre-wholesaling operation, and enters retail pharmacy operation GaleniCare in partnership with Alliance UniChem.
The company acquires Potter's Herbal Medicines in the United Kingdom.
Galenica restructures its partnership with Alliance UniChem and merges its retail pharmacy network into new banner, Amavita.
The company acquires 73 percent of Unione Farmaceutica Distribuzione.


The partnership with Alliance also enabled Galenica, which until then had functioned as a wholesaler, to enter the retail pharmacy sector; Switzerland was the only European country to allow wholesalers to operate in the retail sector as well. In 1999 the two companies formed a new partnership, called GaleniCare in order to establish a network of pharmacies throughout Switzerland. Acquisitions, such as the 11-store chain of Victoria Apotheken acquired in 2000, formed a prominent part of GaleniCare's growth strategy. The company also entered a joint development agreement with Swiss retail giant Coop to create a chain of pharmacies for the supermarket group starting in 2001. At the same time, GaleniCare expanded through the creation of a network of independent franchisees. By 2003, GaleniCare included more than 100 pharmacies, one-third of which were company owned.

While Galenica's Health division remained its main source of revenues, the company's Pharma division became its fastest-growing profit center. A major boost to the company's international position came with the launch of Venofer, an iron sucrose preparation. Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2001, Venofer quickly became the world's leading iron replacement preparation. Venofer's leadership status was further enhanced in 2005 when it became approved for co-administration use with erythropoietin in hemodialysis patients.

In the meantime, the Pharma division helped spearhead Galenica's international expansion ambitions. In 2003, the company acquired Potter's Herbal Medicines, in England. Founded in 1812, Potter's had long been the leading manufacturer of licensed herbal medicines in the United Kingdom and a leading producer in Europe as well. The Wigan-based company added its list of 135 herbal preparations to Galenica's operations. All of Potter's medicines were licensed; in other words, they could be prescribed by a medical doctor.

Into the middle of the first decade of the 2000s, Galenica bolstered its distribution operations as well in preparation for the next phase in the company's development. In 2005, Galenica agreed to restructure its pre-wholesaling partnership with Alliance UniChem. As part of the agreement, Galenica transferred its share of the Alloga pre-wholesaling unit's international operations to Alliance UniChem. In exchange, Galenica took control of the Allogra operations inside of Switzerland.

Galenica also moved to solidify its retail network. In 2005, the company decided to merge its two retail networks, GaleniCare and Victoria, into a single, nationally operating brand, called Amavita. Launched in September of that year, the transformation was largely completed by the end of 2005. Galenica then began seeking the next target for its distribution network's expansion. By 2006, the company had acquired a 20 percent stake in Unione Farmaceutica Distribuzione (UFD); in September of that year, the company agreed to raise its stake in UFD to 73 percent. In this way, Galenica established itself as the leading pharmaceuticals distribution group in all three Swiss language regions. As it approached its 80th anniversary, Galenica's two-pronged approach made it an important player in the Swiss, and global, pharmaceuticals industry.

M. L. Cohen


Health; Pharma.


Bundesplatz 10, 6300 Zug; Coop Vitality Ltd.; Documed Ltd.; Galenica Deutschland GmbH; Galenica U.K. Ltd.; GaleniCare Holding Ltd.; Galexis Ltd.; Hospilog Ltd.; Pharmacie du Théâtre Ltd.; Pharmacie Internationale Golaz Chemist Ltd.; Potter's (Herbal Supplies) Ltd. (U.K.); P.P. Pharmacie Principale Ltd.; Stern-Apotheke Ltd.; Triamun Ltd.; Triamun Ramco Health Care Systems Ltd.; Vifor (International) Ltd.; Vifor France S.A.; Vifor Ltd.; Winconcept Ltd.; Wynepharm Ltd.; Wyss Pharma Ltd.


DKSH Holding Ltd.; Roche Diagnostics AG; Wella (Suisse) S.A.; Amedis-Uhlmann Eyraud AG; Procter and Gamble AG; Bayer (Schweiz) AG; Voigt AG; Sanofi S.A.; Apotheke Zur Rose Gruppe.


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"Chemische Rundschau: Galenica Acquires Majority Stake in Wernle Finsler," Chemical Business Newsbase, January 11, 2002.

"Galenica Acquisition Finalized," Biotech Patent News, June 2004.

"Galenica into EU with Potter's Buy," Chemist & Druggist, July 26, 2003, p. 10.

"Galenica Makes Acquisition," Neue Zuercher Zeitung, August 8, 2000, p. 14.

"Growth Continues for Galenica Group in 2003," Chemical Business DatabaseNeue Zuercher Zeitung, February 3, 2004.

"Swiss Antitrust Approves Galenica Raising Unione Farmaceutica Stake to 73 Pct.," Europe Intelligence Wire, September 4, 2006.

"UK's Leading Herbal Medicine Company Purchased by Galenica Limited," PR Newswire, July 16, 2003.

"Weko Gives Green Light for Acquisition by Galenica," Chemical Business Newsbase, September 5, 2006.