Nordmark’s history - milestones – the successful story of our biological pharma products
Join us on a journey through the history of Nordmark and understand how the company developed into a worldwide leader in the manufacture of biological active ingredients and drug products. Use your mouse to move the time indicator to a specific year or click on the picture to discover Nordmark from a historical perspective.
Business registration for the Nordmark Werke
In the early 1920s, the pharmacist Julius Wolf laid the scientific foundations for the manufacture of pharmaceutical products based on organ extracts. With the desire to implement his ideas as an entrepreneur, together with the margarine manufacturer Alfred Voß, Julius Wolf founded the Nordmark pharmaceutical company on 14 April 1927 as an incorporated company having its registered office in Hamburg.
The first steps of the Nordmark Werke
The “Hepatrat” liver extract is one of the first preparations brought to market by Nordmark Werke. This pharmaceutical product made it possible, for the first time, effectively to treat anaemia.“Hepatrat” was developed based on a patent held by Julius Wolf. There followed two more drugs, Aktivanad and Enzynorm®f, which continue to be successfully in use even today.
Nordmark develops "Eubasinum"
With the sulphonamide “Eubasinum”, Nordmark brought an antibiotic to market that was more effective and better tolerated than the other products available at the time. Moreover, for the first time “Eubasinum” provided an effective therapy for meningitis, which had been incurable until then.
The Nordmark Werke in Hamburg
Until 1943 the production plant of the Nordmark Werke was situated in the middle of the Humboldtstraße / Heinrich-Hertz-Straße.
Nordmark expands and builds new production facilities in Uetersen
Expanding the Hamburg operation was not possible. Therefore, Julius Wolf and Alfred Voß bought a plot of land in Uetersen beside the Pinnau River and built new production facilities there. Julius Wolf remembers the purchase of the ground and the construction activities:
Commercial apprenticeship contract from 1940
The administrative function of the Nordmark Werke at first remained at the Hamburg Werke, where young people were being trained as the next generation in the business. When aged over 16, commercial apprentices were given 12 working days’ holiday and, in the third apprenticeship year, a monthly apprentice salary of 47.00 Reichsmark.
Packaging of pharmaceutical products in Uetersen
After the destruction of the Nordmark Werke in 1943 due to the bombing attacks on Hamburg, the administrative offices and all production facilities were combined in Uetersen.
Trade show stand in Hanover
For the first time since the war, Nordmark was once again represented with its own trade show stand.
Nordmark First Aid Travel Kit
The Heparin Era begins. Enzymes and heparin are extracted from the stomachs and intestinal mucosa of pigs, resulting in a natural active substance that inhibits the coagulation of blood. The Nordmark Werke bring “Thrombophob” onto the market.
The Nordmark Werke celebrate their 25th Jubilee
Depending on seniority, each employee received a bonus in the amount of 10 to 40% of his or her monthly salary, with a minimum of DM 40.00.
Quality Control at Nordmark
The Quality Control Department inspects active pharmaceutical ingredients and drug products in accordance with specified quality standards. It assures that only impeccable products are delivered. And, in that respect, nothing has changed at Nordmark to this date.
Nordmark ships on the Pinnau
Julius Wolf believed that it would be possible to use the Pinnau with its nearby harbour and shipping connections for Nordmark’s business. However, this idea was never put into practice.
The Nordmark Werke bring “Lipotrat” onto the market.
“Lipotrat” is used for the treatment of fatty degeneration of the liver in diabetes mellitus, morbus Basedow (Graves’ disease), tuberculosis and alcohol abuse.
Moorrege – Nordmark employee housing
In Moorrege, the Nordmark Werke built a residential development with modern bungalows for supervisors and management employees.
Construction of the new office building in Uetersen
On 16 June 1961 the local “Rundschau” newspaper reported on the daunting reinforced concrete skeleton structure of the new office building of Nordmark Werke, which, once the sixth floor were completed, was to reach a height of 22 metres. Some 800 people were employed at Nordmark at the time. Of them, 65 scientists worked in research, entertaining contacts to doctors in all of the Federal Republic of Germany and abroad.
Takeover by BASF
BASF created a pharmaceutical division and took over the stock of the Nordmark Werke.
Panzynorm forte at the trade show
Nordmark started marketing “Panzynorm forte”,a digestive enzyme replacement. The medication is used in dyspepsia due to pancreatic dysfunction.
Aerial view of the plant site in Uetersen
The plant site of Nordmark Werke GmbH is densely built up with factory and office buildings as well as research laboratories.
Medicines for sports applications
With“Thrombophob” and “Aktivanad”, Nordmark brought medicines onto the market that are particularly suited for sports applications. “Thrombophob” is a cooling gel used to improve tissue perfusion e.g. in sports and accident injuries. The coated “Aktivanad” tablets have a performance enhancing effect.
Julius Wolf dies shortly after his 90 th birthday
From the obituary of Julius Wolf:“The personality of Julius Wolf was carried on the wings of the spirit of humanity with an extraordinary ability to discern that which is essential and necessary. His sophisticated humour, his unusual energy and creative force helped him turn his ideas into reality even in difficult situations. Even after his retirement from active businesslife in 1962, the Nordmark Werke could for many years continue to benefit from his wisdom, knowledge and expertise.“
Acne treatment on the basis of vitamin A acid
Together with the BASF Pharmaceutical Research Division, Nordmark developed the first acne treatment medicine based on vitamin A acid in the Federal Republic of Germany. The “Eudyna” gel acts on the keratinisation disorders occurring in acne (see Fig. (A) above for how acne develops. Fig. (B) shows the increased sebaceous gland production, Fig. (C) shows a burst follicle wall resulting in an inflammatory reaction).
BASF AG expands its pharmaceutical capacity
With the majority takeover of Knoll AG, BASF AG continued to expand its pharmaceutical capabilities, further enhancing its competitive position on the market. The image above shows the ampoule station of the Nordmark Werke in 1975.
The 29 th issue of Materia Medica Nordmark is published in conjunction with the company’s jubilee
The Nordmark Werke celebrate their 50th Jubilee. “Materia Medica Nordmark” is published with a Jubilee Edition. The scientific corporate journal of the Nordmark Werke has periodically been published since 1931 and is distributed, free of charge, to some 60,000 doctors at home and abroad. In this way, the medical community can be informed about important developments taking place at Nordmark.
Nordmark Managing Director becomes Board Member at Knoll AG
In 1983, BASF transferred all Nordmark shares and its international business to Knoll AG. In 1984 the Nordmark-Werke company was renamed “Nordmark Arzneimittel GmbH, Uetersen”. Dr Kurt P. Rissel, the Managing Director – Marketing and Distribution, joined the Board of Knoll AG.
Nordmark develops the film-coated microtablet
Nordmark developed the special microtabletting technology (diameter: 2 mm) and for the first time successfully used it in the formulation of finished pancreatin based pharmaceutical products (Panzytrat®). The film-coated microtablet is smaller than a match head. It is precisely shaped, with a uniform surface. Thus, 50 microtablets can fit into a medium-sized capsule. In 1988 the microtablet made it into the Guinness Book of Records.
Nordmark invests DM 2.5 million in a drying machine
To ensure gentle drying of organ solutions and to obtain valuable active pharmaceutical substances, Nordmark had a new drying machine built in Switzerland based on its own design. Its installation into the first floor of the plant building was a feat of precision.
Nordmark Company Fire Brigade
Nordmark has its own volunteer fire brigade, manned exclusively by company employees. Training, service grades and functions are formalised via the district fire brigades association. The company fire brigade is still active; it has 21 member and fully up-to-date equipment.
Nordmark receives the Business and the Economy Environment Award in Schleswig-Holstein
“With its multiple measures designed to prevent and reduce waste water and to maximise risk prevention, Nordmark Arzneimittel GmbH in Uetersen makes an essential and exemplary contribution to preventive environmental protection” (quote from "25 Years Business and the Economy Environment Award in Schleswig Holstein")
"Modern businesses behind old facades"
As part of a series, the “Pinneberger Tageblatt” (“The Pinneberg Daily”) reported on the modern operations of Nordmark’s production sites.
Nordmark management is expanded
Together with Claus Hinrich Pich, Karl-Heinz Huth assumes the management of Nordmark’s Marketing and Distribution units.
Nordmark pharmaceutical product manufacturing tools
Press tools for the manufacture of butterfly shaped tablets
Nordmark is renamed Knoll AG
At the end of the year, the production operations in Uetersen were merged with Knoll AG in Ludwigshafen. "Knoll AG Werk Uetersen" displaced the venerable name of “Nordmark”.
Nordmark Werke in Uetersen regain their independence
From 1 March 2001 onwards, the plant operated under the name “Nordmark Arzneimittel GmbH & Co KG”. As an independent pharmaceutical company, Nordmark offered biological active pharmaceutical ingredients for the pharma industry as well as finished pharmaceutical products for patients. The founders from left to right: Jan Lüdemann, Dr Manfred Kurfürst, Dr Peter Tonne, Jochen Gruber, Dr Klaus Lämmerhirt
Nordmark makes a further thrust into the biotechnology arena
Nordmark Arzneimittel GmbH & Co. KG and Bioceuticals Arzneimittel AG (an equity affiliate of STADA AG) together founded the joint venture Norbitec GmbH, which has its headquarters on the Nordmark site. Norbitec’s focus is on the biotechnological manufacture and production of erythropoietin (Epoetin zeta), an active substance used in the treatment of renal anaemia.
Snake venom as medication
A warehouse on the Nordmark site is being converted to a modern High-Tech Farm for Malay Pit Vipers. In particular the climate technology represents a challenge for Nordmark’s engineers, as these snakes are very sensitive to climate fluctuations. From these Malay pit vipers, the company obtains the blood coagulation inhibitor Ancrod. The snake venom was colleted in this snake farm until 2019.
Eighty years of success as a result of continuous further development
Nordmark’s products are characterised by ongoing further development. Nordmark constantly creates new and improved product formulations based on the latest scientific and technological findings and the applicable regulatory requirements.
In 2011 Nordmark recorded turnover of approximately € 80 million.
Nordmark creates Viprinex Research AG
Together with its subsidiary Viprinex Research AG, Nordmark produces the active pharmaceutical ingredient Ancrod from the venom of Malayan pit vipers. Ancrod inhibits blood coagulation and, after the pertinent clinical trials, is intended to be used as a drug against acute hearing loss.
Nordmarc acquires BIBITEC
Bibitec Gesellschaft für Prozessentwicklung GmbH, with head offices in Bielefeld (BIBITEC), was acquired in 2012 to enhance Nordmark's competencies in the technologies related to the production of biotechnological active ingredients. BIBITEC specialises in the development of processes for the production and the high-tech analysis of recombinant proteins and monoclonal antibodies by means of mammalian cells (CHO cells).
The logo of the Nordmark Werke is a stylised Viking ship. It symbolises the principle behind the company: a journey into the unknown and to new shores, or, in this case, towards new therapies.
This fundamental mindset has not changed since those days, and is reflected in all stages of the evolution of the corporate logo to date.
The marketing of “Hepatrat” and “Enzynorm” was supported by to-the-point advertising campaigns.
Hepatrat advertisements 1930
Hepatrat advertisement 1934
Hepatrat advertisement 1934
In the early 1930s, Nordmark Werke AG was converted into a limited liability company. The company then underwent a period of fast growth. Nordmark built up a network and always kept current by means of the then cutting edge communication systems.
From left to right, Messrs W.Griesel, J.Wolf and W.Neurather, in 1930 in front of the Nordmark Werke in Hamburg.
Membership in the National Association of the Biological Food and Drug Industry, 1933/34
Radio transmission authorisation of 1935 for the construction and operation of a radio receiver station
“The relocation of the Nordmark Werke from Hamburg was demanded by the Tissue Regulatory Authority, which did not allow a further expansion of the manufacturing activity because of the odour nuisance resulting to the surrounding residences.
Therefore, because of his real estate experience, I requested Mr Voß to look for a property outside of Hamburg. Mr Voß bought the land on which the factory currently stands without requesting the expert opinion of Architect Pruter, as he would usually have done.
In spite of the friendly relations Mr Voß entertained with the relevant gentlemen of the City authorities in Uetersen it only became apparent once we started to build that we had acquired the former City dump as our construction site. My objections in the sense that we needed a lot of water were not taken into account on the grounds that the land was right by the Pinnau River.
It then became apparent that in spite of the proximity to the Pinnau, there was no water, and we needed to drill down to a depth of several hundred metres. Soon after we began production in Uetersen in September of 1939, our activities were jeopardised, as the unconsolidated soil subsided. All machines had to be disassembled again from Halls I to III (whereas Hall IV, the laboratory building, had been built on driven piles on the urgent recommendation of Architect Pruter), to enable pile driving to take place within the halls, at a cost of more than 400,000 Reichsmark.
The Nordmark Werke were able to absorb this financial shock. Much worse, however, was the threat of the State Agency for Economic Development in Berlin, which involved that because of these erroneous decisions the operation would have to be shut down. We were only able to obtain the iron rations for the pile driving and well drilling work thanks to my personal efforts with the official government departments and on condition that we supply the Wehrmacht, i.e. the armed forces, with liver extract and Eubasinum.”
Packaging of pharmaceutical products in 1937
“Among other properties, in Moorrege the Nordmark Werke also bought Düneck Castle, for purposes of establishing a research facility, which was entered in the commercial register in December of 1938 under the name of ‘Institut für experimentelle Medizin GmbH Moorrege bei Uetersen Schloss Düneck’”.
“Here we set up laboratories that served the progress of medical research – independently from the manufacturing activities at the plant – under the direction of a Professor of Medicine,until the breakout of the war put an end to this work. The premises that had now once again become free were made available as dwellings for the workers, who needed to be housed as a result of the relocation of the manufacture from Hamburg to Uetersen.
In the early years of the war, the rooms of the Castle were also used for the storage and warehousing of valuable raw materials for manufacturing purposes." Source: Quote from “Uetersen News – tip”
In 1940 and 1941 the Nordmark Werke celebrated Christmas in Uetersen with all their staff in the festively decorated new warehouse and in parallel in Hamburg, with those employees who worked there.
Newspaper report on the festivities in Uetersen
Many of the male workers were drafted as soldiers during the war.
Field post letter from Nordmark to Lance Corporal Walter Alberich from 1941, in which he is informed that his Christmas bonus would that year be paid out to his wife.
Working in the wooden hall in 1948
“... At the end of the war in 1945, parts of the factory and the administrative offices were occupied by British troops and only released again in December 1946 / January 1947, so that our manufacturing activities were strongly hampered for three quarters of a year. The dearth of construction materials and the ban on building, the lack of money after the currencyreform meant that it was 1949 ... before we were in a position to perform a general overhaul of all machinery and equipment, build extensions and carry out modernisation work.”
Source: “Thoughts and memories about the history of the Nordmark Werke” by Julius Wolf
Nordmark New Year’s Greetings 1949
The plant in 1950
Organ extraction in 1950
Sulphamide production in 1950
Ready-made liquid preparations manufacturing plant in 1950
Ampoule manufacturing in 1950
Common room of the Nordmark Werke in 1950
The new kitchens
Inauguration in 1954
Entrance to the plant in 1957
The staff in 1957
View onto the wooden hall in 1957
Delivery to the plant by Nordmark lorry (photomontage) and the ampoule station in 1960.
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The first colour aerial photograph of the Nordmark Werke.
The 1988 entry in the Guinness Book of Records
The 19-fold special steel tool of the tabletting machine enables production of approximately two million microtablets per hour. This enables Nordmark to be the first precisely to dispense minute quantities of active pharmaceutical ingredient and formulate them in solid form.
The staff in front of the administration building in Uetersen
Raw water pool cooling at the Nordmark site.
Waste water container on the Nordmark site.
Report about Nordmark’s environmental protection policy in the newspaper “Ihr Nachbar” (“Your Neighbour”)
Aerial photograph of the Nordmark residential development in Moorrege in 1991
March of 1992 saw the publication of the first issue of the Nordmark employee magazine “Nordmark Information”. The newsletter is intended to make a contribution to better dissemination of information in the company.
“From 2001 onwards, the company name is once again Nordmark Arzneimittel – employee buyout!”
“The management buyout of the Uetersen production site of Knoll AG in Ludwigshafen has been perfected. The staff, who support the development, were informed yesterday, following the agreement of the Supervisory Board. Knoll AG is the German part of BASF Pharma, which after the purchase in 1967 had operated the Uetersen plant merely as business premises. The old historic name “Nordmark Arzneimittelwerke” had also been eliminated in 1996. It will live again starting on 1 January 2001. The Uetersen plant will then operate under the name of Nordmark Arzneimittel GmbH & Co KG.
As opposed to BASF, Peter Tonne, who until the middle of the year had been Director of Production and Technology at Knoll, believed in the Uetersen site, its management and the plant’s products, and took the initiative to effect a Management Buyout (MBO), i.e. a takeoverof the company by its management. He is now the Chairman of the Board, and is supported by three other owners and an externally hired financial specialist. Consideration is being given to whether also to develop an employee participation structure, which meets with a great deal of approval from the staff. A model for such an arrangement, which can only take effect after the final restructuring, is currently being explored.
The Uetersen plant manufactures biological active pharmaceutical ingredients and drug products, among other applications for the treatment of thrombosis, digestive disorders and wound healing. The company’s customers are downstream users and pharmaceutical wholesalers. As these products are not part of the core business of BASF, it had been feared that Uetersen would undergo a partial or total shutdown, until Peter Tonne decided to undertake the now completed step. The 380 employees no longer need to fear for their jobs – in fact, rather, additional hires are planned. “We now need to build up our own logistics, marketing, sales, distribution and EDP”‚ is the motto. “We’re rolling up our sleeves”.”Source: Gisela Reiners, WELT ONLINE, 27 October 2000