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Pharma roots Diosynth run deep in Brabant town of Oss

Akzo Nobel subsidiary supplies U.S. giant Pfizer

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, North Carolina - Oss-based Diosynth, a subsidiary of Dutch-Swedish chemical giant Akzo Nobel, has entered into a long-term development agreement with U.S. pharma conglomerate Pfizer. No details were released about the value of the new contract.

The Dutch company will sell Pfizer pharmaceutical ingredients for that company’s Somavert, a new drug treating certain growth hormone disorders in patients who respond inadequately to other treatments.

Diosynth, which has its head office in the Brabant town of Oss, the Netherlands, also operates a number of manufacturing facilities in the U.S. It will supply the ingredients from its North Carolina plant. The company is an offshoot from the 1923 firm Zwanenberg, which later became Organon. In that year, Dr. Saal van Zwanenberg began extracting insulin from bovine pancreas. Diosynth still has this extraction process in its portfolio, but over the years has added many more pharmaceutical products.The company is one of the largest manufacturers of active pharmaceutical ingredients in the world with annual sales of over $500 million. It offers more than 100 products to pharmaceutical companies.

Agricultural base for giants

For many decades, Oss - halfway between Den Bosch and Nijmegen - has been the centre of the Dutch pharmaceutical industry. At the end of the 19th century, the town which received its city charter in 1399, with its proximity to a steadily expanding farm animal density was home to two large export slaughterhouses. Ideally situated for related endeavours, these soon became the foundation for specialized sausage makers, butchers, and producers of prepared meats and cold cuts. Waste and by-products of the meat processing industry were used for pharmaceutical and biochemical products. Zwanenberg became a leading food products company as well. Organon now is an Akzo Nobel subsidiary.

In 1872, Oss also became the cradle of the Dutch margarine industry and by extension to Dutch British multinational Unilever. Local butter merchants Jurgens Bros. began making their ‘artificial butter’ based on a French invention. Competitor Van den Bergh eventually merged with Jurgens, forming two companies, one in the Netherlands and one in the U.K. In 1930, the two companies, Margarine Unie/Union, merged with British soap manufacturer Lever Brothers, resulting in Unilever.