In two rented rooms in Malmö, Sweden, Dr. Frederik Paulsen founded Nordiska Hormon Laboratoriet in 1950, which in 1954 changed its name to Ferring. He named the company after the strong, closely-knit community of people originating from the island Föhr who called themselves Feringers, and spoke Fering.
World leader in peptide hormones
Ferring became a pioneer in developing and selling pharmaceutical products based upon natural, pituitary-produced peptide hormones. Dr. Paulsen was convinced that these new compounds could be used to supplement deficiencies and correct abnormalities, thus playing an invaluable role in the treatment of life-threatening conditions.
Five decades later, Dr. Paulsen's predictions have proved remarkably accurate. Today, peptides from Ferring are widely used in Ferring's treatments.
2010 - Ferring’s 60th anniversary
Ferring celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2010. This has given us the opportunity to recognise the enormous progress the company has made since Dr Frederik Paulsen senior started our company in two rented rooms in Malmö, Sweden, in 1950.
Synthetic peptide hormones on an industrial scale
Dr Paulsen was convinced that peptide hormones produced by the pituitary gland had the potential to play a major role in treating a range of health conditions. He chose to focus on, as he called them, the "completely disregarded peptide hormones," rather than the steroid hormones that other companies were working on at the time.
His exciting idea of 'medicine on the body's own terms' proved to be a good one. Sixty years on, the company is now a world leader in peptide hormones, with 5000 employees.
The fledgling company constructed its own R&D and production facilities, also in Malmö, in 1956. Five years later, the pioneering team achieved a major scientific breakthrough by producing synthetic peptide hormones - vasopressin and oxytocin - on an industrial scale. This development established Ferring as one of the first companies in this field.
A scientist ahead of his time
Frederik Paulsen (1909-1997) was born in Germany and grew up in Kiel, where he showed an early interest in art and literature. His teachers described him as independent, and a non-conformist thinker. Frederik eventually carried these traits into left-wing political activity that would have a major impact on his life.
From Germany to Sweden
Frederik chose a career in medicine, not least, because it was a profession he could practise wherever he lived in the world. Before he finished his final examinations at the Kiel University Gynaecological Clinic in 1933, the Gestapo arrested him for distributing literature protesting against the killing of a leading Social Democrat. Frederik Paulsen was in jail for most of the next two years. In 1935, his family helped him flee Germany between arrests and on his 26th birthday he arrived in Sweden.
Despite his refugee predicament, he soon found work performing hormone research for Organon and Pharmacia. Dr. Paulsen gradually gained recognition among his Swedish colleagues, and became a regular lecturer at Lund University.
In the 1940s, Dr. Paulsen turned his back on the overcrowded field of general hormone research to focus on peptide hormones. Peptides, however, had no real commercial value until 1948, when two American researchers discovered adrenocorticotrophin hormone (ACTH), or stress hormone, in the pituitary gland, which showed a dramatic therapeutic effect on asthma and arthritis. Dr. Paulsen and his research assistant, Eva Frandsen, succeeded in producing ACTH in their basement laboratory in the Biochemical Institute in Stockholm.
Dr. Paulsen offered his expertise in ACTH to a number of big pharmaceutical companies but in 1950, he decided to establish his own company, the Nordic Hormone Laboratory, later to be renamed Ferring Pharmaceuticals.
Devoted to Ferring
When Dr. Paulsen turned 60, he and Eva, whom he married in 1958, began to withdraw from the day-to-day operations of Ferring. He gradually handed Ferring's management over to his youngest son, Frederik, who served as Chief Executive Officer for some years before becoming Chairman of the Board.
Eva and Dr. Frederik Paulsen retired to the Paulsen family home on Föhr, where they remained active in inspiring Ferring's on-going research into new fields of medicine. They also devoted themselves to the people of Föhr, and to the preservation of their history and culture. Dr. Paulsen died there in 1997 at the age of 88.
In his later years, Dr. Paulsen's advice to young researchers was: "Real success is serendipity and the scientific work that attracts fellow scientists. It's better to work on research without thinking about money. Goal-oriented research is remarkably unproductive."
Laying the foundation for Ferring
Dr. Frederik Paulsen and Eva Frandsen incorporated ‘Nordiske Hormonlaboratorie’, later to be named Ferring. The company wanted to be a Nordic enterprise that focused on hormones, including production, chemical and physiological research, and their application in medicine.
Dr. Paulsen had become assistant professor at the Pharmacological Institute at the University of Lund where he advised on pharmacological and clinical matters and marketing. Few years later he took over full time leadership of the company.
Laying the foundation for Ferring
In the spring Nordiske Hormonlaboratorie started the production of adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) on rented 60 square metres in an old factory building in Malmö, Sweden. The ACTH came from local hog pituitaries which were richer in ACTH than other domestic species and furthermore hog slaughterhouses in the region were well organised.
Eva Frandsen who had experience with other peptide hormones from her time in Stockholm with Pharmacia and Organon led the production after having set up the same production the previous year with partners in Copenhagen. She was soon assisted by Helmer Hagstam, who later on became Ferring’s head of production and technical director for many years.
The appearance of ACTH and the adrenal cortical hormones on the drug market was the beginning of antimmune therapy and offered new possibilities for treating antimmune diseases. This resulted in an enormous amount of work in clinical development of the ACTH and new indications were added steadily. Dr. Paulsen headed up this work and he benefited from his good connections with Swedish doctors during many years.
Strong roots decide name
Frederik Paulsen changed the company name to Ferring. He had practical and rational reasons for renaming the company; he wanted a name that would be easy to understand and pronounce in as many countries as possible.
His reason for choosing ‘Ferring’ was deeply personal and demonstrated his close connections with his native island of Föhr, since the Friesian word ‘Ferring’ is the name given to the islanders living there.
Ferring moved from its rented location to its first self-owned factory in Malmö. As Ferring grew, companies opened in Germany and Denmark, but Dr. Paulsen, on an old advice of his grandmother, did not borrow money to finance the expansion.
An important breakthrough for Ferring came when Dr. Paulsen and his staff succeeded in producing synthetic peptide hormones (vasopressin and oxytocin) on an industrial scale, and became one of the first companies in the worldwide pharmaceutical industry.
Ferring became the only worldwide producer of vasopressin, a hormone whose structure was modified to form the basis of MINIRIN®, which has been Ferring’s flagship product for 20 years.
Launch of MINIRIN
Ferring launched MINIRIN®, an anti-diuretic hormone used initially to treat diabetes insipidus and later primary nocturnal enuresis, or bedwetting. MINIRIN soon became the most important product in Ferring’s product portfolio.
New production site
Ferring established its first production site outside Scandinavia in Kiel, Germany.
Launch of GLYPRESSIN
First registration and launch of GLYPRESSIN® (terlipressin), an analogue of vasopressin, which is used for the treatment of bleeding oesophageal varices.
Ferring began forming global subsidiaries in Europe, North America and Southeast Asia.
Kiel Ferring Foundation
Dr. Frederik Paulsen was one of the initiators of the Kiel Ferring Foundation, which, since its formation has awarded 20,000 DM every other year to two scientists at the Faculty of Medicine at the Christian Albrechts-University in Kiel for notable studies in the field of endocrinology.
Launch of MINIRIN tablet
The MINIRIN® tablet was the first peptide-based pharmaceutical to be successfully formulated for administration in tablet form.
Launch of PENTASA
Ferring launched PENTASA® (mesalazine) for the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases. This product enabled the company to strengthen its position in gastroenterology.
Frederik Paulsen Junior becomes CEO
The founder’s youngest son, Frederik Paulsen, became CEO of the Ferring Group. At the same time Ferring established Ferring B.V. in The Netherlands as a holding company for the Group. Today Frederik Paulsen is Chairman of the Board.
New worldwide subsidiaries
During the 1990s, Ferring accelerated the opening of new subsidiaries in Eastern and Western Europe, South America, Asia, South Africa and in the Middle East. On average, revenues grew by 20 percent a year.
New activities in Prague
Ferring BV entered into a joint-venture with Léciva a.s., the largest pharmaceutical company in the Czech Republic at that time.
Launch of MENOGON
In June of this year Ferring launched its first product in the area of infertility, MENOGON® (menotropin) for the treatment of infertile couples.
Ferring became the main sponsor of the ESPE (European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology) Winter School for young paediatric endocrinologists from Eastern Europe. Ferring still supports the winter school, where the aspiring young endocrinologists attend a one week ‘crash course’, during which they receive instruction in all areas of modern endocrinology from professors from western and central Europe.
Launch of ZOMACTON
Ferring launched ZOMACTON® (hGH) for the treatment of growth hormone deficiency (GHD) in children and for the treatment of girls with Turner’s syndrome.
Ferring’s founder dies at 88
Dr. Frederik Paulsen, Ferring’s founder, died at the age of 88, after having spent his last 17 years on his native island Föhr together with his wife Eva Paulsen. During these years he was actively involved in Friesian affairs and the problems of minority groups.
Launch of TRACTOCILE
In 2000, Ferring launched its latest medicine, TRACTOCILE® (atosiban), a new chemical entity developed by Ferring’s researchers for the treatment of pre-term (premature) labour. Ferring also launched MENOPUR® (menotropin), a follow-up compound to MENOGON® (menotropin) for the treatment of infertile couples.
Ferring International Center opens for business
On January 1st the new Ferring International Center building in Ørestad, Copenhagen opened for business. With its 20 floors, designed by the renowned architect Henning Larsen, the new building is a landmark for Ferring and one of the highest office buildings in Scandinavia.
Starting signal for Ferring’s fifth production site
Ferring breaks the ground for the building of its new state-of-the-art multi-purpose site in Saint-Prex, Switzerland and thereby continues its commitment to the region.
Ferring Headquarters open
Ferring Headquarters and new production facility open in Saint-Prex, Switzerland. The facility provides additional production capacity for Ferring's dry products as well as secondary packaging and distribution for Ferring's entire range of products.
Launch of FIRMAGON
Launch of FIRMAGON® (degarelix), a GnRH blocker for advanced hormone-dependent prostate cancer.
Ferring celebrated its 60th anniversary
Ferring was founded in 1950 and celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2010. The company has evolved from a small 2-people enterprise to a now strong player in the pharmaceutical field. It is present on all continents.
Acquisition of Cytokine
Acquisition of Cytokine PharmaSciences Inc. (CPSI) and its subsidiary, Controlled Therapeutics Scotland (CTS). The new entity called Ferring Controlled Therapeutics will continue its manufacturing activities in Scotland.