Richter, Gedeon

(Ecséd, September 23rd, 1872 – Budapest, December 30th, 1944)

Richter, Gedeon

The creator of Hungarian pharmaceutical industry who left behind extraordinary life-work, a pharmaceutical factory of world standard, his name is associated with the production of numerous new and efficient pharmaceutical preparations.

In 1893 he obtained a final certificate of research student at the University of Kolozsvár (now Cluj/Napoca, Romania). Web link At the medical faculty of the Royal Hungarian University of Sciences Web link in Budapest he obtained a diploma of pharmaceutics.

Richter pursued the pharmaceutical practice required by law for opening an individual pharmacy in Hungary and abroad, and after returning to Hungary in 1901 he bought a pharmacy in Budapest and became an individual pharmacist. In the laboratory of Sas Pharmacy he was engaged in the semi-plant production of galenic preparations and extracts containing hormones of endocrine glands.

In 1907 he started the first Hungarian pharmaceutical factory called Richter Gedeon Chemical Factory. Web link

The equipment of the factory was up to the contemporary technical standard, analysing and research laboratories were also attached to the plants. Richter and his collaborators prepared a series of new medicaments and manufacturing processes. At the beginning the organotherapical preparations distributed with the brand name „Hormogland-Richter” were significant, later standard galenic preparations and synthetic products as well as vitamins appeared on the scale of products. Among the galenic materials the most significant ones were the digitalis extracts applied in cardiology and the ergot extracts important in obstetrics.

In the 1920's Gedeon Richter organised the first Hungarian biological laboratory which had a significant role in standardising active ingredients and in checking their quality. In a new research laboratory set up in the 1930's they worked out the semisynthetic production of steroid hormones isolated earlier from natural materials. In 1941 they solved the production of the first synthetic oestrogenic hormone, the silbestrol.

Richter realised soon that the industrial production of pharmaceuticals in a small country can only be viable, if it is supported by considerable export. In a short time he established a network of agents covering five continents and founded ten foreign affiliated firms.

During World War II Gedeon Richter had to renounce his ownership rights because of the laws of antisemitic politics, moreover he was banned from his factory from 1942. On December 30th, 1944 he was dragged away by a Hungarian nazi detachment and killed on the bank of the Danube.