PIERRE FABRE, 60 YEARS OF CARING FOR EVERYONE
18 July 2022
In 1962, as a young pharmacist, Pierre Fabre embarked on innovation by creating his first drug. 60 years later, under the governance of our Public Utility Foundation Pierre Fabre, we continue to nurture our unique positioning, at the crossroads of the medical and the natural, to provide access to the highest quality care, based on our expertise in oncology, dermatology and dermocosmetics. This year we celebrate 60 years of partnership and trust, serving our patients and consumers.
LE TARN, WHERE OUR STORY BEGAN
Pierre Fabre was born in Castres, on a beautiful April day in 1926. Was it spring that inspired his passion for botany? Or the vast expanses of the green landscapes in the Tarn region? Or perhaps it was the rural traditions he was raised in? The story does not say.
What we do know is that after he had just turned 25, Pierre Fabre took out a loan and purchased a pharmacy in the main square of his home town. He dispensed advice to his patients at the counter and also compounded medicines in the back.
It was there, in 1958, that he developed Cyclo 3. This innovative venotonic was made using an active substance extracted from the roots of a small local shrub: Butcher’s Broom, or Ruscus aculeatus in Latin - “Grefol” in the local Occitan dialect.
The success of Cyclo 3, along with his entrepreneurial spirit, led Pierre Fabre to found his own company, which he registered on May 30, 1962. Pierre Fabre Laboratories had 8 employees at the time. In the same way that Butcher’s Broom remains green and leafy in all seasons, the company has now been blooming for 60 years.
A VISIONARY ENTREPRENEUR, A UNIQUE REGION
In the mid-1970s, Pierre Fabre — the son of a fabric trader from Castres — became dismayed by the decline of the once flourishing textile industry in the south of the Tarn region. He was determined to breathe new life into his native region by basing his company’s activities there.
The entire operation took place within a radius of a few kilometers around Castres. Firstly in the Péraudel district, where Pierre Fabre founded the company in 1962. Then he expanded to Soual, where the first factory was set up.
Each day, Pierre Fabre could be seen driving his Renault 4CV along the 15 or so kilometers that separated the two sites, closely following the development of his company and spending time with his various teams.
The Group quickly expanded internationally into Northern Africa, Spain and Switzerland... although,
international expansion was always pursued with the ambition of being everywhere while being there.
Generations of employees followed one another as new sites opened across Occitania.
Work anecdotes mingle with family stories and the company becomes part of the social and local life.
All the more so as the Group plays an active role in boosting the vitality of the Tarn region and its reach. On a daily basis, by facilitating youth training programs, access to culture and the integration of new technologies.
All this in addition to noteworthy commitments such as the unwavering support for the Castres Olympique rugby club. The Group’s rapid investment to turn the ruins of the AZF factory into the Oncopole campus also provided the Toulouse region with a world-class oncology center.
Throughout both good times and more challenging times, the Pierre Fabre Group has been standing shoulder to shoulder with the people of Occitania for 60 years.
MOTHER NATURE, HEALTH’S BEST ALLY
Faced with a difficult decision, Pierre Fabre once exclaimed: “Don’t you realize? It is as if you were to ask me to cut down a tree!” The phrase speaks volumes about the man’s love for nature and his determination to preserve it.
Selecting the right plant varieties, choosing better ways of growing, building a plant extraction facility in Gaillac, setting up laboratories and creating botanical gardens, revealing the mysterious properties of the water from a thermal spring in Avène-les-Bains and — last but not least — formulating plant-based health and care products: the passion for plants that ran in Pierre Fabre’s blood is like a sap that fuels the Group.
It was this love of science and nature that brought Pierre Fabre and Professor Pierre Potier of the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) together.
It was this encounter that led the Group to branch out into oncology. Together, the two men set out on a remarkable scientific and industrial adventure, unlocking the mysteries of Madagascar Periwinkle and launching the company’s first cancer drug, Navelbine®, in 1982.
Today, most of the products produced by Pierre Fabre Laboratories contain an active substance derived from nature. The most recent: Celastrol. An extract of a South-East Asian plant (called the “thunder god vine”) which was initially studied for use in oncology, it was Ducray’s teams that harnessed the benefits of this active substance for the treatment of psoriasis.
THE POWER OF PARTNERING
In November 2021, Forbes magazine published its annual list of the World’s Best Employers. The Pierre Fabre Group ranks high on this list, reflecting its reputation in the industry and the employees’ attachment to their company. The commitment is mutual and is illustrated by the Ruscus shareholding plan launched in 2005.
Each year, this plan enables a growing number of employee shareholders to benefit from the Group’s performance. Today, nearly 9 out of 10 employees contribute to the financing of the company, thereby enabling it to live out its purpose.
Whether it be buying a house or financing a child’s education, Ruscus allows employee shareholders to personally benefit from the successes to which they contribute.
The missions of the Pierre Fabre Foundation are based on a partnership approach that mirrors the principle behind this employee stock ownership initiative.
Inspired by Pierre Fabre’s indignation at the plague of counterfeit medicines in Africa,
the Foundation has worked since its inception to improve access to health care for people in the Global South, working with local players.
Granted public-interest status in 1999, Pierre Fabre wanted it to become the majority shareholder of the Group and so he designated it as the sole legatee. The Foundation now ensures the Group’s financial independence and stability and finances its projects through the dividends paid to it.
When — thanks to the partnership between the Foundation and Dr Mukwege (2018 Nobel Peace Prize laureate) — a center dedicated to victims of war-related sexual violence was opened in Bangui in the Central African Republic, the work of each Pierre Fabre employee took on a whole new meaning, nourishing our collective pride.
A DISTINCTIVE WAY OF VIEWING THE WORLD
The history of Pierre Fabre Laboratories’ successes and innovations does not resemble Archimedes’ fabled “Eureka!” moment, but rather the vision of a man who sees the world differently. Looking to nature to find the active substances that will transform the daily lives of millions of people. Looking to innovation, to expand our network of knowledge and expertise.
From this holistic vision arose a major invention: dermo-cosmetics. Bringing beauty care into the pharmacy led to the unprecedented alliance of medical and cosmetic expertise, raising skin and hair care to the very highest of standards.
Stories abound behind each product in every field. Take Aignan,
for example, where the purchase of a confectionery factory enabled Pierre Fabre’s formula technicians to exploit sugar-cooking processes to produce a medicine.
This is the story of the creation of Drill throat lozenges and the acquisition of expertise that is unique in Europe.
In 2009, this same ability to transcend established practices gave rise to sterile cosmetics. This patented technology is based on processes used in the pharmaceutical industry and enables the production of preservative-free skin care products. This guarantees a 100% sterile formula for the entire duration of use.
When our researchers in Saint-Julien-en-Genevois explore new cancer treatments in immuno-oncology, or when the dermo-cosmetics teams use biomimicry to reproduce the way the skin functions in order to develop products, our distinctive world-view lives on.
THE ART OF BEING OPEN TO THE WORLD
Travel and relationships have fostered the expansion of Pierre Fabre Laboratories throughout the world. The Group’s evolution began in Barcelona in 1969, with the creation of a subsidiary on the other side of the Pyrenees and the launch of Ciclotres. ¡Olé!
In the 1980s, Pierre Fabre turned to the land of the Rising Sun. A meeting with Yoshiharu Fukuhara, grandson of the founder of the Japanese brand Shiseido and another leader in international dermo-cosmetics, marked the beginning of a fruitful collaboration.
Both men shared a strong sense of family business as well as a taste for art.
Over the years, prints from Mount Fuji have adorned the walls of the Le Carla estate in Castres,
while in Japan, the brand Eau Thermale Avène was growing and conquering the skin... and the hearts of Japanese women.
Forty years later, Asia has become the leading market for international growth of the Group, which each day rises to the challenge of concentrating 95% of its manufacturing in France, between the South-West and the Loiret department.
From Australia to Brazil, via the United States, Poland and Tunisia, as our presence grows in each new country and each new continent, the influence of French expertise grows with it.