Joining forces with a competitor

In the mid-1980s, it is beginning to seem clear that, to make it in the pharmaceutical industry, Orion needs to proceed on two fronts: inexpensive patent-free products and more expensive patented proprietary drugs.
The company begins to develop generic products while also improving its research pipeline. A foreign acquisition is considered to be a viable option, but then a surprising opportunity presents itself: Farmos, a major Finnish competitor, becomes available for sale. After long negotiations, Farmos becomes Orion’s subsidiary in 1988, and the former competitors merge in 1990.

This merger of two Finnish giants boosts research, as their earlier bodies of work complement one another. Farmos has been developing heart and cancer medicines, for example, and Orion has been developing a drug for Parkinson’s disease, among other products.

At the level of individuals, however, the leap into the unknown appears to be a little less seamless. The merger comes as a surprise to the operating management at Farmos, and the merger of two corporate cultures takes its time. On the verge of the merger, Sten-Olof Hansén, CEO of Farmos, reminds everyone of the importance of adaptation:

“Adaptation to the changes in our operating environment has required a great deal of work from all of us. Based on this year’s events and those that occurred in previous years, it is safe to say that the only constant today is change,” he writes in the Christmas issue of Farmos News.

Pictured here is the Domosedan medal introduced in honour of an animal sedative developed by Farmos. Domosedan – the first Finnish proprietary drug, down to the molecule – was introduced in 1983.