We are a health and wellness company which is active in more than 70 countries worldwide. Uriach retains its independent family structure committed to innovation and sustainability.
Over 180 years ago, the same spirit that now underpins our principles pushed us to create a business that would grow to become what Uriach is today. This makes us the oldest laboratory in Spain and the second oldest in Europe. It also makes us unique and genuine.
We can tackle the important challenges ahead with confidence and enthusiasm. Uriach's goals are collective and arise from the confluence of our heritage and our projects. We represent history and the past, but also innovation and the future, as a force capable of changing things and blazing new trails.
Mission and vision
To become a global reference in health and quality of life, supporting people's well-being through progress, sustainability and a socially responsible attitude.
Like so many family businesses established by the budding industrial bourgeoisie of the 19th century, Uriach finds its origins in a modest job in a shop.
Juan Uriach Feliu, barely a teenager, starts working in a drugstore owned by Rafael Vilaclara Euras at 6 Born Promenade in Barcelona. Uriach, the son of a miller, was born in Sant Andreu del Palomar (an 18th-century town located north of the city centre), but he was forced to move to Barcelona because the mill only provided enough work for his father and older brother.
Who would have thought that, 175 years and five generations later, the store would have grown to become a leading pharmaceutical company with a strong presence at home and abroad.
Twenty-two years have gone by since Uriach started working as a go-boy in Vilaclara’s drugstore.
He has used this time to climb up the ladder, successively becoming an apprentice, a shop assistant and shop manager. Having more or less stable finances, lots of work under his belt and the necessary experience, he buys the shop and starts running the business.
He marries Josefina Uriach Vallés. Only four of the couple’s eleven children make it to adulthood: three men, Joaquín, Francisco and Trinidad; and a woman, Carmen.
Having outgrown the original drugstore in Born Square, the business moves to 20 Carrer Montcada.
The new building has ample storage room downstairs and an upper floor the family calls home. They do not choose just any building —Palau Dalmases is one of the magnificent palaces lining one of the most important streets of mediaeval Barcelona.
Juan Uriach Feliu joins forces with Joaquín Alomar Font, holder of a degree in Pharmacy, to create the drug retailer Alomar y Uriach.
Business blooms, showing Uriach the great benefits of working together with a specialist who can help develop the scientific aspect of the business. They quickly agree to create a company to sell preparations spanning almost the entire pharmaceutical spectrum of the time. They also export to colonies, mainly in Africa and America.
The evening edition of the Diario de Barcelona on October 11, 1889, comes with an account of the devastation caused by a fire that broke out the previous morning in Uriach’s warehouse: “The part overlooking Montcada Street still has the shelf and the scorched counter; the inside parts have been completely burnt, even the ceilings of the upper floors; the goods in the large warehouse overlooking Baños Viejos Street were saved, although damaged in some cases, as people worked this morning to remove those in best condition…”
Joaquín Alomar Font dies shortly before the execution of the Alomar y Uriach contract. Uriach takes the necessary legal steps (buying the part of the business belonging to Alomar’s widow) to become sole proprietor and winds down the company. A new business takes its place: J. Uriach y Cía.
The new structure of the business and its strong growth lead Uriach to set different paths for his sons: Joaquín will follow in his footsteps, eschewing a higher education and working hard to climb up the ladder after starting as an apprentice, whereas Francisco and Trinidad are to become pharmacists. As a result, the company’s commercial and technical management becomes more effective.
The company sets up its first laboratory at 28 Baluarte Street, in La Barceloneta.
The eldest son, Joaquín, makes the business decision to create the laboratory, chooses its initial capital and determines its location. However, La Barceloneta poses significant challenges, so they decide to move their laboratory to Sant Martí de Provençals, a town near the company founder’s birthplace, Sant Andreu del Palomar. They buy a plot approximately 5,000 square metres in size and build their premises in Degà Bahí Street.
Faced with a rise in production and the need to store foreign products made exclusively by Uriach, the Italian Wassermann laboratories, one of the biggest companies in Europe, agrees to enter into a partnership with Uriach y Cía. as long as it gets its own warehouses.
Uriach reaches identical agreements with Charles Chanteaud, Pagliano, Bishop and Falieres. Sedlitz Chanteaud, Ureol, Stenol, Natural Fruit Saline Bishop’s, Fosfatina and Tabletas Pagliano are among the products sold at the time.
Booming business leads to a new move, leaving old Barcelona for the new and prosperous Eixample. The company again chooses prime real estate in a strategic location, with a single, fully owned building boasting the largest warehouse in the Eixample. Offices, the warehouse, retailing and bulk sales take up the ground floor, while the upper floors are single-family homes for rent that will soon become offices due to the constant growth of the company. The business already has 60 workers on its payroll.
A new range of products sold by Uriach consolidate its reputation and, thanks to their popularity, make the brand famous.
The jewel in the crown is Fosfatina, a French-patented chocolate flour produced in the Sant Martí de Provençals laboratory under the supervision of two French technicians.
Uriach works to strengthen its contacts with the French A. Bailly company, earning a Spanish licence for products such as Pulmoserum and Opobyl. Uriach also starts manufacturing Uraseptine, a drug developed by the French Rogier brand that had to be imported until now.
The business becomes a public limited company in accordance with the custom of the time.
Its name changes to J. Uriach y Cía, S. A. for an indefinite period. The new company’s Board of Directors has the following composition: Joaquín Uriach y Uriach, chairman; Francisco Uriach Uriach, Trinidad Uriach Uriach and Juan Uriach Tey, members; and Clemente Gracia Rovira, secretary.
Popular products such as Magnesia Bishop’s and Sal de Frutas Bishop’s punctuate the 1930s. At the time, Uriach has a hundred laboratories at home and abroad and distributes over a thousand products.
The Decree for the Collectivisation and Worker Control of Industry and Trade drafted by Minister Josep Tarradellas and passed by the Generalitat wrestles control of the company from Uriach.
The business becomes Uriach Empresa Colectivizada (Uriach Collectivised Company). However, Juan Uriach Tey is appointed manager by the workers who take over ownership of the company in recognition of his technical and business know-how.
The company loses 50% of its workers, limiting its activity at a time when blackouts and disruptions in the supply of raw materials are taking their toll.
However, Uriach continues to develop its business activity, as reflected in the list of pharmaceutical deliveries issued by public authorities. As a curious aside, Uriach distributed 7,500 kg of cod liver oil in 1938.
After the end of the war, the Uriach family regains control of the company back and restarts its business activities right away.
Juan Uriach Tey takes the reins of the company again and is forced to start from scratch, reviving the business through the sale of food and groceries stored in the basement of the headquarters in Bruch Street.
Difficult times make for great decisions. Uriach Tey grasps that the future lies in the laboratories, focusing his long tenure on this objective and revamping the company to put in-house production at the heart of its business.
Juan Uriach Tey and his cousins, Josep Mª and Lluís Uriach Balarí, the third generation promotes research as the foundation of the soon-to-be pharmaceutical company.
A new company, Instituto Farmacológico Experimental, S. A., is founded under the trading name Biohorm.
The new company, a swift and effective solution to the economic chaos of the time, unlocks a whole new range of promising business prospects for Uriach. A research centre is set up with cutting-edge methods.
Biohorm needs to develop its own products to create a blockbuster drug. Nicohepatocyn (a liver regulator and laxative) is launched in 1945, followed by the renowned Biodigest (a bowel transit regulator for children), Lipograsil (a natural treatment for obesity) and Biodramina (a treatment for motion sickness).
24-year-old Juan Uriach Marsal joins the company after obtaining his degree in Pharmacy in 1953 with a special award.
This period sees the fourth generation enter the company and Juan Uriach Marsal become the first Doctor of Pharmacy to take the chair. His scientific training will have a great impact on his professional career. He places an even greater emphasis on research, leading to the synthesis of new compounds that will give rise to new, better drugs.
The concept of an autonomous, self-financed research line based on the work of a team of pharmacists, doctors, chemists, biochemists and veterinarians is born.
International expansion is also a priority for Juan Uriach Marsal, who opens the first delegation abroad in Lisbon and taps into new markets on other continents.
Biohorm starts manufacturing veterinary products.
The first step is a range of pharmaceutical products starting with nitrofurans for veterinary applications, followed by antibiotics, vaccines, disinfectants and more, as the company puts together an extensive catalogue that gets new additions every year.
Construction of the new headquarters begins according to Juan Uriach Marsal’s plan.
Architect Manuel Ribas Piera’s project becomes a reality on the Sant Martí de Provençals grounds that had once been home to the original laboratory, creating one of the masterpieces of 1950s architecture in Barcelona. The main facade oversees Degà Bahí Street.
Construction of the new headquarters is completed and Uriach sets up its Research Department.
It originally focuses on oral diabetes drugs, but Uriach continues to invest in its Research Centre, providing it with more laboratories, equipment and, most importantly, researchers.
Ribas i Piera, the famous architect who built the Degà Bahí headquarters, leads the construction of the raw material plant in Sant Fost de Campsentelles, which opens in 1970.
The development of the pharmaceutical company hinges on the production of raw materials to guarantee the supply and quality of the compounds used in production processes. The Uriach Group’s Fine Chemicals Division, later renamed Urquima, S. A., is born to supply the global generics market. It gets almost 100% of its turnover from exports.
It develops, synthesises and produces active ingredients (APIs) for generics manufacturers on an industrial scale. Products, chosen mainly with a view to competing on the American and European markets, are manufactured following GMPs at the Sant Fost de Campsentelles plant, which is inspected and approved by the FDA.
Original patents are always taken into account when developing and marketing products. In some cases, non-infringing processes are developed, giving rise to proprietary patents.
J. Uriach y Cía. receives the Laude Prize, awarded to pharmaceutical laboratories responsible for outstanding research.
The Prize, whose winner is chosen in a vote involving the entire medical and pharmaceutical sector, is a public endorsement of Uriach’s research activity in the fields of synthetic diabetes drugs (glisentide, trade name Staticum) and topical corticosteroids (flupamesone, trade name Flutenal).
Other compounds developed in-house in the 1970s include Bronquimucil (respiratory infections) and Eupen (amoxicillin).
Uriach soars to new research and technological heights in the 1980s. One of the key moments is the launch of Disgrén (triflusal), which will go on to become a reference on the antiplatelet drug market. Other original compounds developed by Uriach’s Research Centre include flutrimazole (an antifungal) and Disdolén (a new analgesic compound).
As the company celebrates 150 years of history, the management decides to create the Uriach 1838 Foundation as an essential tool for Uriach’s community-focused scientific and social work. The aim of the Foundation is, on the one hand, to preserve and raise awareness about the national cultural heritage through art collections (at the family level) and, on the other hand to promote, preserve and spread health sciences through the Foundation itself.
The Uriach Group sets up Pharmagenus as a beachhead in the generics market. In the end, the company will be sold to American multinational Amneal in 2014.
As the company kicks production, development, exports, etc. up a notch, the offices, laboratories, production and warehouse are transferred to a new headquarters, this time in Palau-Solità i Plegamans (except for the raw material plant, which stays on Urquima premises).
The turn of the millennium and the consolidation into a single site give rise to upgraded facilities, streamlined internal communications, etc.
The result of years of research, Uriach launches a cutting-edge antihistamine in the domestic and international markets (more than 70 countries all over the world).
The mantle passes to the fifth generation of the family, Juan, Marta, Javier, Enrique and Joaquín, with Enrique Uriach Torelló taking the chair.
Around the same time, Uriach buys out Laboratorios Diviser-Aquilea, doubling the turnover of its Consumer Health area to 17 million euros.
Palau Pharma focuses exclusively on discovering and developing compounds to treat autoimmune and inflammatory disorders. Its creation is the result of a spin-off of Uriach’s R&D unit, a first in the pharmaceutical sector. The Prince of Asturias inaugurates the facilities.
Uriach and Galénica forge a strategic alliance to create the Vifor Uriach Pharma joint venture, a partnership that will give a boost to the marketing of existing products and help prepare future launches in the Spanish hospital market, focusing on iron replacement therapies.
The Swiss company Galénica will buy 100% of the capital of Vifor Uriach Pharma in 2012.
After 170 years of management by the Uriach Family, a new administration model sees the light of day with the incorporation of a new Chief Executive Officer from outside the family. From now on, the Uriach family will take on a more strategic role, overseeing its businesses via the Family Council and the Board of Directors, with Joaquín Uriach Torelló, as Chairman.
Urquima signs a joint-venture agreement with the fine chemistry family business Sunlight Pharmaceutical, providing a platform on the Asian market that will help develop the Fine Chemistry business more effectively.
The fifth generation consolidates its position at the helm of Uriach in the midst of a strategic and organisational facelift. A new era dawns as the company celebrates the 175th anniversary of the foundation of the first Spanish laboratory.
At this point starts the new Strategic Plan 2013-2017 whose main business growth objectives and consolidating the transformation strategy of recent years.
Uriach buys the nutricosmetics brand Innovage from Laboratorios Phergal and purchases Halibut, a historic brand selling skin irritation treatments.
The operation kicks off a new stage in the development of Uriach, giving rise to new investments and big acquisitions that will fuel and consolidate its international expansion.
This year marks two important milestones in the coming decades in Uriach. On the one hand, the Italian pharmaceutical Laborest, a leader in the market for food supplements is acquired and the commercial activity in Portugal is also started with a small network of sales representatives. And, on the other hand, Uriach bought Fisiocrem brand, a natural cream for the muscles and ligaments, with strong growth potential.
With the new strategic plan in progress, and with good results, Uriach makes a firm commitment in order to become a leading company Consumer Health of reference in Europe, professionalized and keeping the family spirit itself.
Acquiring a foreing company is a big leap in the internationalization of Uriach and a cultural and organizational transformation that will evolve the business to follow, step by step, with firmness and decision for many years.