Laboratorios Andrómaco: Origins of the First Subsidiary of a Spanish Pharmaceutical Multinational in the United States (1928–1946)

Paloma Fernández Pérez

Abstract


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

Keywords


Laboratorios Andrómaco; Spanish Multinationals; Pharmaceutical Industry; History of Pharmaceutical FDI

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References


  • Interviews

- Rubio Tudurí, Fernando. Interview with Josep M. Espinàs. Personal i intransferible, TV3 a la carta. May 20, 1993. Video at http://www.ccma.cat/tv3/alacarta/personal-i-intransferible/fernando-rubio-i-tuduri/video/3088490/ (accessed 27 May and 27 June 2016).

- Rubió Boada, Mercè. Interview by author. Barcelona, May 18, 2016 (by phone); June 3, 2016 (Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Barcelona).

- Rubió, Enrique, and Fernanda Rubió. Interview by author. Minorca, June 22, 2016 (family home near Mercadal, Minorca).

  • Email correspondence

- Xisca Fortuny, e-mail message to author, May 2 & 4, 2016. As well as a phone conversation.

  • Historical archive Fundació Rubió Tudurí, Mahón, Minorca

- Advertisements of products by Laboratorios Andrómaco

- 1923 Diary detailing the creation of Laboratorios Andrómaco

- Documents from Laboratorios Andrómaco Lisbon, several years 1931–1950.

- Documents from Laboratorios Andrómaco Mexico, several years 1955

- Press reports about Andrómaco

  • Fernando Rubió Boada’s personal archive

- Rubió Boada, Enrique (Fernando´s son). Fernando Rubió Tudurí: Farmacéutico. Typewritten. No date.

  • Secondary sources

Jonsson, Gudmundur. 2006. “Comparing the Icelandic and Norwegian fishing industries’ response to the economic crisis of the 1930s.” Unpublished paper presented at the XIV International Economic History Congress, Helsinki, 21–25 August 2006, Session 91: The Nordic countries and the commercial de-globalization of the interwar period.

Roselló Rubió, Josep. 2009. Mongofre: la pasión por Menorca de Fernando Rubió i Tudurí. Barcelona: M Edicions.

Osama Hatum, Andrés. 2002. “Organisational Flexibility in an Emergent Economy. PhD thesis in Management, University of Warwick. Accessed May 27, 2016.

http://wrap.warwick.ac.uk/1293/1/WRAP_THESIS_Hatum_2002.pdf




DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1344/jesb2016.2.j019

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