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Beecham (pharmaceutical company)
Beechams was a British pharmaceutical company. Following mergers in the late 20th century it is now part of GlaxoSmithKline
Additional recommended knowledge
Beechams was the family business of Thomas Beecham (1820-1907), a chemist. He was the grandfather of the conductor also named Thomas Beecham (1879–1961). As a boy, he worked as a shepherd, selling herbal remedies as a sideline. He then started as a travelling salesman or peddler, but subsequent success enabled him to open a shop in Wigan.
Their first product was Beecham's Pills, a laxative in 1842.
Beecham opened its first factory in St Helens, Lancashire, for the rapid production of medicines in 1859.
Under Sir Joseph Beecham, 1st Baronet (1848-1916), son of Thomas, the business expanded but remainded a patent medicine company and engaged in little research.
Beecham bought companies for various products, adding the Lucozade glucose drink and Macleans toothpaste to its product chain in 1938. The following year it added hair products for men by buying another company.
In 1943, it decided to focus more on improving its research and built Beecham Research Laboratories. In 1944, the company was named Beecham Group Ltd.
In 1945, Beecham Research Laboratories Ltd operated from Brockham Park, Surrey.
By the mid 1950s the group comprised some 100 smaller companies, including a large wholesale grocery business which was sold off later.
In the 1950s to 1960s Beecham in consort with Bristol-Myers developed penicillin derivatives including pheneticillin, then the more potent methicillin (Celbenin). Later these were followed by Ampiclox and others as the group focussed on pharmaceutical development
In 1953, it bought C. L. Bencard, which specialized in allergy vaccines. In 1957, company researchers isolated the penicillin nucleus 6-aminopenicillanic acid (6-APA). This discovery allowed the synthesis of a number of new semisynthetic penicillins. In 1959, Beecham marketed Broxil (phenethicillin), followed shortly by Celbenin (methicillin) that is active against Staphylococcus aureus. In 1961, Penbritin (ampicillin) hit the market, and soon Beecham's facilities were inadequate for the worldwide demand. A 35-acre complex at Worthing came on line in the early 1960s to produce 6-APA, the base for semisynthetic penicillins.
In 1972, Beecham launched Amoxil, which went on to become one of the most widely prescribed antibiotics.
In 1981, Beecham introduced Augmentin, an antibiotic used to treat an array of bacterial infections.
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