FAES FARMA was born by the estuary of Bilbao in 1933 and the town of Lamiaco in Vizcaya witnessed the birth of a new pharmaceutical factory, which originally occupied only 4,000 square metres, destined mainly to manufacturing arsenical drugs.
It was opened in 1935, with the presence of the Under-Secretary for health Manuel Bermejillo, becoming the first of many personalities from industry, finance and politics to visit the laboratories during their history.
In on year, more than 300,000 ampoules of NEO-FAES (neoarsenobenzol) were used in Hospitals, Dispensaries and private clinics. Other pharmaceutical products made by FAES FARMA were also popular for their efficacy, such as SULFO-FAES, CALCIO-FAES, URO-FAES and other drugs that are currently not used.
After a brief stoppage due to the civil war in Vizcaya, FAES FARMA effectively resumed its activities in 1937 although the manufacture of some products was suspended due to the difficulties in obtaining raw materials such as mercury salts, the conflict meant demand for arsenobenzol products soared in the whole country, a demand that the pharmaceutical company from Lamiaco was able to adequately provide for.
There were different achievements in the following years, among which we can highlight the industrial synthesis (Unique in Spain) of camphocarbonic acid, the launch on the market of the anti-malarial drugs QUINO-ESPIRO-FAES and LAVERANIL in the Spanish regions affected by malaria, the industrial preparation of different and complex calcium salts, and one of the milestones of the company: The launch on the Spanish market of PARAMIDA (from the study of a new a preparation of DOMAGK), a pharmaceutical product whose success was the stimulus for the new research and the synthesis of new sulfonamide preparations on the global level.
The Spanish Civil War ended, but then the 2nd World War began, making it even more difficult to obtain raw materials. A new opening event took place on 8 September 1942, finishing the enlargement of the industry that had begun four years earlier. This event coincided with the 5th National Meeting of Spanish Dermatologists, in Bilbao, enabling dozens of specialists in this and other medical specialities to visit the FAES FARMA factory and witness the great work of the laboratories during those years.
The 1940’s are characterised by the success laboratory’s success in developing new pharmaceutical products, overcoming the difficulties to obtain raw materials in Europe during WWII and in the post-war. At this time, drugs like SULFOPIRIDINA and SULFOTIAZOL-FAES or ARSENOXIDO were developed. They also began to mass-produce a barium salt that was very useful for radiology, and the Lamiaco factory implemented the complete process for synthesizing saccharine. In addition, at that time FAES FARMA was synthesizing diphenylhydantoin industrially under the name of HIDANTILO and manufactured dibasic magnsium trisilicate, a gastric neutraliser that was the base for preparing SILIMAG. At that time we can also highlight the foundation of LABORATORIOS VITORIA, in Lisbon.
The 1950’s and ‘60s were characterised by the strengthening of the chemical side of the company, developing products such as a line of intravenous infusion therapy, products such as phenylmercuric acetate, commercial hydrochloric acid, camphocarbonate, bismuth carbonate, glucose, yellow mercuric oxide, and insecticide compounds for agricultural use such as camphechlor polychlorocamphene, diethylenetriamine/nitric oxide (detano) or dinitrona, as well as a complete range of fungicides, herbicides, domestic insecticides and rodenticides.
It was not until the 1970’s that the purely pharmaceutical spirit of the company began to definitively prevail.
The vademecum of FAES FARMA in 1970 amounted to 73 references and had product lines such as the antibiotic range, anti-epileptic and other products related to pathologies of different nature: the antidiuretic EDIFENO, the hypnotic DORMILENO, the Antirheumatic GRADONA, the peripheral vasodilator PRAXILENE, the antacid SILIMAG and RUTICE. This list also included a range or dietary products, among which we can highlight LACTOMIEL.
In those days, the business of FAES FARMA laboratories amounted to around 300 million pesetas turnover, with a market share of 1.08% and 28th position in the ranking of Spanish pharmaceutical industries. Two thirds of its annual sales came from the antibiotic range.
1978 was the year of one of the events that spurred the growth and development of Laboratorios Faes Farma: the synthesis of hidrosmin, which would be subsequently marketed under the brand-name Venosmil in 1987. The launch of Ranidín FAES (Ranitidine) in 1982 opened a period of co-marketing alliances with multinational companies that still continue today.
The 1990’s began with the launch of MACROSIL (Roxithromycin) on the market, licenced from laboratorios ROUSSEL. At this time, FAES FARMA completed its transformation from a predominantly antibiotic range company towards more importance of the line of venotonics. Sales of VENOSMIL, ESBERIVÉN and DIOSMINIL amounted to one third of the total sales of the group in Spain. The Spanish market is spearheaded at the beginning of this decade by LABORATORIOS ESTEVE, and FAES FARMA is 22nd in the ranking, with a market share of 1.64% and more than 5,500 million pesetas in sales.
In 1992, the company reinforced its commitment to specialities, launching BEGLÁN (Salmeterol), MOTIVÁN (Paroxetine) and OSEOTOTAL (Calcitonin), licenced by GLAXOWELLCOME, BEECHAM and SANDOZ, respectively. And in 1994 the company began a policy of purchasing products from other companies, beginning with the purchase of FERROPROTINA (Ferretin) from LABORATORIOS MORRITH.
In 1998, the company’s policy of licensing was enriched with the launch of fluticasone in two presentations focused on the inflammatory therapeutics in asthma and rhinitis. One year later, FAES FARMA commercialised VERISCAL D under licence from Italfármaco and purchased the speciality SEDOTIME (Ketazolam) from SB, used for anxiety disorders.
The first year of the new century, FAES FARMA Group commercialised the speciality INALADÚO (Salmeterol and Fluticasone) for the regular treatment of asthma, and purchases the drug Zyloric (Alopurinol) from GLAXOWELLCOME, for treating gout, which was a leader in sales at the time. En 2001 the pharmaceutical company already exceeded 100 million euros in sales of pharmaceutical specialities. A year later, it purchased CLAVERSAL (Mesalazina) from GSK for treating intestinal inflammatory disease and the oral corticoid DEFLAZACORT from AVENTIS, which was marketed under the brand DEZACOR in Spain and ROSILAN in Portugal.
In 2005, PANKREOFLAT (dimethicone + pancreatin) came out on the market in Spain and Portugal. That same year, Laboratorios Vitoria began to commercialise ASACOL (Mesalazina), CLIMATER (Soya isoflavones) came out on the market in Portugal and FAES FARMA purchased the Primary Healthcare division of IPSEN, incorporating into its portfolio consolidated pharmaceutical products such as ANALAGILASA and ROBAXISAL COMPUESTO. Reworking and launching of the new ESBERIVEN (Troxerutin) took place the following year.
In the next few years, FAES FARMA consolidated its presence in female healthcare area, launching BONDENZA (ibandronate), licenced from ROCHE and BALIANCA (chlormadinone + ethinyl estradiol), licenced from GRÜNENTHAL. The vademecum of FAES FARMA is completed later with products such as ACOXXEL and RISTABEN&RISTFOR, licenced from MSD. The latest great success of the pharmaceutical company occurred at the beginning of the current century, with the launch of the proprietary R&D product, BILAXTEN (Bilastina). This important milestone in the modern history of Faes Farma took place on 9 September 2010. The German agency (BfArM) acting as Lead State granted the approval, under the decentralised procedure format, to Bilastina (DCI), a new second-generation antihistamine drug with a rapid initial action, as effective as traditional antihistamines and with a safety profile comparable to a placebo.