Stiefel Laboratories, Inc.

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Stiefel Laboratories, Inc.

255 Alhambra Circle
Coral Gables, Florida 33134-7412
Telephone: (305) 443-3800
Toll Free: (888) 500-DERM
Fax: (305) 443-3467
Web site:

Private Company
1944 as Stiefel Medicinal Soap Company, Inc.
Employees: 3,500
Sales: $530 million (2006 est.)
NAIC: 325412 Pharmaceutical Preparation Manufacturing; 551112 Offices of Other Holding Companies

Stiefel Laboratories, Inc., claims to be the world's largest independent specialist in dermatology products. Based in South Florida, the company has manufacturing plants and research facilities in several countries and a marketing presence in dozens more. Until the 2006 acquisition of Connetics, which added an important new foam medicine delivery medium to its assets, more than half of its revenues came from abroad. Stiefel makes more than 100 products. Prescription treatments account for most of sales, but its over-the-counter Sarna anti-itch lotion has found widespread success. Its innovations include the first benzoyl peroxide treatment for acne.


Stiefel Laboratories, Inc., traces its origins to the J.D. Stiefel Company established in 1847 in Offenbach-on-Main, Germany, by John (Johann) David Stiefel. Its first products were candles, but Stiefel began making medicated soaps within a few years.

August C. Stiefel, grandson of the founder, is credited with bringing the company's products to the United States for the first time in 1910. However, after a couple of decades, Depression era tariffs strangled its imports to the country. According to a profile in the Miami Herald, August Stiefel then turned to vacuum cleaner sales to get by.

August Stiefel's son Werner went to Yale University on a scholarship during World War II and earned a degree in chemical engineering. He then spent two years working for Procter & Gamble.

Although the factory in Germany apparently did not survive World War II, the Stiefels resurrected the business in 1944, registering it in New York State under the name Stiefel Medicinal Soap Company, Inc. They began operating out of a former creamery in Oak Hill, New York, near their vacation home.

The company was renamed Stiefel Laboratories, Inc., in 1956. The nonprofit Stiefel Foundation for Dermatological Research was formed the next year and in 1967 Stiefel established its research and development (R&D) center, the August C. Stiefel Research Institute, Inc. The company was already a pioneer in the dermatology field. In 1966, its Sulfoxyl Lotion was first to introduce benzoyl peroxide for the treatment of acne.


Proximity to the growing Latin American market was a key factor for relocating the company's headquarters to Coral Gables, Florida, in 1977. Stiefel set up a plant in Singapore in the mid-1980s. It also formed a subsidiary in Brazil; within a few years it was doing $4 million of business a year there. Other manufacturing and research operations were set up in Ireland, Pakistan, and the United Kingdom. By the mid-1990s, Stiefel had 1,100 employees around the world. It would add hundreds more by the end of the decade as its annual revenues rose to $250 million.

A massive new plant was also added in Brazil around 1999. At nearly 250,000 square feet, it was billed as the largest pharmaceutical plant in the southern hemisphere. Stiefel had more than 400 employees and sales of about $70 million in Brazil in the late 1990s.

Stiefel established a manufacturing and distribution unit in India in late 2000, entering a foreign country via a joint venture for the first time. However, it bought out its minority partner, Elder Pharmaceuticals Limited, after a little more than three years. Elder continued to make Stiefel products under license.

By this time, Stiefel was active in more than 100 countries through its three-dozen subsidiaries. Rapid expansion had lifted its workforce to 1,500 employees. Revenues were about $250 million in 2001; Stiefel claimed the title of the world's largest independent dermatological specialist. Among its most important products were Spectraban sunscreen, Duofilm wart treatment, Clindets acne treatment, Sarna anti-itch lotion, Brevoxyl acne medicine, and Oilatum eczema and dry skin treatment.


Stiefel continued to develop its domestic facilities. It opened a new building in Suwanee, Georgia, in 1994, adding 70,000 square feet of space to its Atlanta area operations. Three years later the company expanded the 27,000-square-foot August C. Stiefel Research Institute in New York by a third, a prelude to a much larger addition two years later.

The R&D institute was expanded again in 1999, bringing it to more than 50,000 square feet, while more than 100,000 square feet of manufacturing and warehouse space were added to the main factory nearby. The project cost $17 million, offset by $4 million worth of tax incentives to keep the operations in New York.

Stiefel Laboratories, Inc., was reorganized as a Delaware corporation in 2005. The next year the company announced plans to move its August C. Stiefel Research Institute from New York to North Carolina's Research Triangle Park. It bought a $34 million, 155,000-square-foot facility there that had been built several years earlier for Eli Lilly's Sphinx Pharmaceuticals unit. The site officially opened in April 2007; Stiefel planned to spend another $50 million upgrading it. Stiefel also had large R&D centers in Bonsucesso-Guarulhos, Brazil, and Maidenhead, England, and a half-dozen manufacturing plants in all.

The upstate New York factory remained in use, principally to make product samples. The company installed a couple million dollars' worth of new machinery there to take some of the labor out of the process.


Control passed to the next generation in May 2001, when Charles W. Stiefel succeeded his father Werner K. Stiefel as chairman and CEO. A lawyer by training, Charles Stiefel had been company president since the mid-1990s.

International sales had long made up the bulk of revenues, the company's new leader revealed to South Florida CEO, accounting for nearly two-thirds of 2003 revenues of $361 million. Stiefel aimed to raise the proportion of U.S. sales to 50 percent, and invested heavily in marketing to do so.


Stiefel Laboratories is a specialized pharmaceutical company with a singular, steadfast focus on the advancement of dermatology and skin care around the world. Stiefel Laboratories is renowned for its legacy of over 150 years of skin care "firsts," endeavoring to provide the highest quality, most effective prescription and over the counter skin care products available in more than 100 countries. One of our primary missions is to make our products available in as many countries as possible, as soon as possible. We have a sense of urgency to improve the quality of life for millions of people around the world.

The company produced a hit with its new Duac acne treatment. This incorporated the antibiotic clindamycin alongside the proven over-the-counter ingredient benzoyl peroxide in a novel shelf-stable formulation. Duac became Stiefel's best-selling product within a couple of years of its U.S. launch in October 2002.

The company continued to bring out new products, such as the MimyX eczema treatment. It ventured into dietary supplements for the first time with DermaVite, a combination of nutrients to nourish healthy skin from within.

Stiefel acquired Connetics Corporation in the fall of 2006 for $640 million. Connetics, formerly known as Connective Therapeutics, Inc., had been formed in 1993 as a spinoff of Genentech, Inc. Its top product was VersaFoam, a mousse used to deliver drugs such as the hair-growth treatment Rogaine. Connetics was struggling financially in spite of this success, as certain new products failed clinical testing while the Securities and Exchange Commission investigated a former officer for alleged insider trading. The company, whose shares had been traded on the NASDAQ before the acquisition, had 400 employees and 2005 sales of $176 million. The Connetics buy added an R&D facility in Australia in addition to its Palo Alto, California, headquarters.


J.D. Stiefel Company established by John David Stiefel.
First products exported to the United States.
Company relaunched in New York State.
Benzoyl peroxide acne treatment, Sulfoxyl Lotion, introduced.
Headquarters relocated to South Florida.
New manufacturing plant built near Atlanta, Georgia.
Main plant in Oak Hill, New York, begins major expansion.
Research and development facilities begin move to North Carolina's Research Triangle Park; Connetics acquired.
Private equity firm Blackstone Group acquires a minority holding in Stiefel.

Family-owned throughout its history, in August 2007 the company announced it was selling a minority holding to the Blackstone Group, a large publicly traded New York investment firm. The funds were needed to increase the pace of product development, explained CEO Charles Stiefel. He had previously revealed to the Miami Herald his ambition to make Stiefel the first $1 billion dermatology specialty company by 2011.

Frederick C. Ingram


August C. Stiefel Research Institute, Inc.; Glades Pharmaceuticals LLC; Connetics Corporation; Laboratorios Stiefel Ltda (Brazil); Stiefel India Private Limited; Stiefel Korea Co. Ltd.; Stonebridge Pharma, LLC; Stiefel Laboratories Ireland Ltd.; Stiefel Mexicana S.A. de C.V.


Combe Inc.; Medicis Pharmaceutical Corporation; Skin-Medica, Inc.; NuSkin Enterprises Inc.; Allergan, Inc.


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