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Laboratorios Andrómaco: Origins of the First Subsidiary of a Spanish Pharmaceutical Multinational in the United States (1928-1946)
Fernández Pérez, Paloma, 1964-
Universitat de Barcelona
Laboratorios Andrómaco was a Spanish pharmaceutical company that opened a commercial subsidiary in the United States in the early months of 1929. It was located right in the heart of Manhattan, at 11 West 47th Street, in front of the New York Public Library. Despite the Wall Street crash, it remained open until 1946. The owner was the pharmacist-entrepreneur Fernando Rubió Tudurí (1900-1994). It was the first foreign direct investment made by a Spanish pharmaceutical multinational in the United States, using a maquila-style operation to export Spanish products made in the USA to Central American markets. Nothing has been published about this until now. Only interviews with Enrique and Mercè Rubió Boada (son and daughter of Fernando Rubió), digitalized sources from the company held by the Fundació Rubió Tudurí in Mahón, Minorca, and hard-to-access secondary sources have made the recovery of this history possible. The company closed its doors in the US and expanded in South American markets after World War II, but the short history of their investment in the United States reveals the potential and international capabilities of Spanish pharmaceutical companies before the Spanish Civil War. Moreover, it reveals how the Spanish Civil War was a disaster for millions of people but in some special cases it became an opportunity for companies in the science industries. Few pharmaceutical firms like Andrómaco, with entrepreneurs, resources, and a long-term vision, took the decision to invest in the most profitable (though also the most difficult) market for pharmaceutical products in the world: the United States. Andrómaco was created in Barcelona in 1923 by two scientist-entrepreneurs (Raul Roviralta and Fernando Rubió Tudurí). A nutritional product called Glefina (made with Norwegian cod oil from Ålesund and sugar) brought the small firm considerable success in sales in Spain in the mid-1920s. Making use of impressive networks (with the Spanish royal family, Catalan political elites, and the medical and pharmaceutical profession in Spain and Germany) and innovative commercial approaches (sending free samples to selected clients like King Alfonso XIII's family circle and Dr Gregorio Marañón) were key business strategies during those years. The commercial subsidiary had two employees that coordinated the outsourcing of the production to local US producers, with exports of their US-made Andrómaco products going to Central American clients. Those clients loved buying a US-made product designed and sold by a Spanish pharmacist living in Long Island, with an office in Manhattan, who frequently travelled from the US to Latin America in the tough years of the Depression
Empreses multinacionals
Indústria farmacèutica
Història de la farmàcia
International business enterprises
Pharmaceutical industry
History of the pharmacy
cc-by-nc (c) Universitat de Barcelona, 2016
Universitat de Barcelona

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