1933 – 1970 Foundation and beginnings
Josef Popp, the grandfather of the current owner and CEO Professor Dr. Michael A. Popp, founded Bionorica in Nuremberg in 1933. He sold the first natural remedies and almost 400 different types of tea. The founder remained the head of the company for twelve years until 1945 when his daughter, Erna Popp, who studied pharmacy, took over the management of the company. Together with her brother Dr. Hans-Oskar Popp, a doctor specializing in naturopathy, she laid the foundation stone for today’s company. By 1961, Bionorica already had a filling machine, a labelling machine and its first employees.
1970 - 1990 Progress and research
In the 1970s and 80s, the company continued to grow steadily. Bionorica established a scientific sales force for personal consultation with doctors in private practice. Research also became increasingly important: Bionorica became one of the first pharmaceutical companies to start testing a herbal medicine in controlled double-blind studies.
Professor Dr. Michael A. Popp, the grandson of the company founder, took over the management of Bionorica production (Plantamed Arzneimittel) in 1988. At the same time, the company moved from Nuremberg to Neumarkt in the Upper Palatinate. In 1989 Professor Popp also became Managing Director of Bionorica GmbH. The pharmacist, then 29 years old, consistently continued along the path taken by the family-owned company, starting with intensive research in the fields of cultivation, analysis, pharmacology, toxicology and clinical trials. Bionorica set worldwide standards in the field of phytomedicine.
1990 - 2000 Internationalisation and expansion
Bionorica started to promote its international business through active cooperation with national and international sales partners. The company also established two subsidiaries in Hungary: Herbextract and Mediplant. Plants for Bionorica are grown at these subsidiaries. Bionorica extracts SL was established in Majorca for the cultivation of medicinal plants and for the production of special extracts.
1996 was a highlight year for Bionorica’s research: Scientists discovered certain pharmaceutical effects of sorrel herb as well as primrose and verbena. One year later, Sinupret® and Sinupret® forte were newly registered in Germany.
In the same year, Bionorica started growing thyme in Majorca to obtain optimal raw materials for the manufacturing of Bronchipret®. The company standardized all production processes worldwide. The company was also establishing a representative office in Moscow (Russia) while others were to follow in Minsk (Belarus) and Almaty (Kazakhstan).
2000 - 2010 Establishment and growth
In addition to respiratory therapeutics, gynecological preparations had become one of the company’s most important products. Through intensive research work with chaste tree, Bionorica successfully identified the active ingredients that lowered the woman’s prolactin level and thus actively counteracted cycle disorders and chest pain.
In 2001 Bionorica was transformed into a public limited company. Bionorica expressed the company’s formula for success, the combination of phyto (Greek for “plant” = decoding the great potential of active ingredients in plants) and engineering (use of the latest research and innovative technologies): BIONORICA AG - The phytoneering company.
Bionorica continued to grow in the 2000s: the company established another representative office in Kiev (Ukraine). In addition, the pharmaceutical manufacturer acquired Delta-9-Pharma GmbH. The new addition brought the pharmacologically most important active ingredient from the hemp plant to the German market as a prescription drug in 2002. In September 2003, Bionorica AG celebrated its 70th anniversary, for which the then Bavarian Prime Minister Dr. Edmund Stoiber visited the company.
Despite the changes brought about by the Health Modernization Act (GMG), which took Bionorica’s herbal medicinal products in Germany out of prescription in 2004, Bionorica asserted itself as a manufacturer of plant remedies and continued to expand its market leadership. The demand for highly effective phytopharmaceuticals with low side effects started to grow significantly worldwide.
Bionorica research GmbH was founded in Innsbruck (Austria) in 2005 for research and development of herbal medicinal products in the areas of respiratory diseases and chronic pain amongst others. It was the first private institution of this kind in Austria.
In 2007 Professor Popp founded the non-profit foundation “Phytokids” (today “Natureheart Foundation for Kids”). Its purpose is to promote, care for and support children and adolescents in social and medical institutions and children homes all over the world. The foundation implemented its first projects in Eastern Europe in the same year.
Also in 2007, Bionorica ethics GmbH emerged from Delta-9-Pharma GmbH. Bionorica ethics GmbH developed new drugs and active ingredients in oncology and pain therapy.
In July 2007, Bionorica AG inaugurated its new administration building in Neumarkt. The state-of-the-art building was designed to be in harmony with nature: The combination of innovative energy technologies (e.g. state-of-the-art photovoltaic systems, combined heat and power plant/lighting with renewable raw materials) and intelligent materials (e.g. special two-component carpets) was a structural milestone in eco-effectiveness, environmental compatibility and health tolerance for the employees. The new company headquarters was one of the most sustainable administrative buildings in Europe and thus an expression of the company’s corporate philosophy.
Bionorica celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2008. Michael Glos, then Federal Minister of Economics and Technology, visited the company on this occasion. A year later, Chancellor Angela Merkel was also a guest at Bionorica AG. During a personal interview with Professor Popp and a tour of the production, the Chancellor got an insight into the intensive research program and the manufacture of herbal medicinal products. In her address to the employees of Bionorica AG, she emphasized the great importance of medium-sized companies for the German economy.
2010 - 2015: International growth & umbrella brand strategy
In 2010, Bionorica AG became a European stock corporation: Bionorica SE. In the same year, the herbal medicinal products were given a new packaging design in a step-by-step process. The company logo - a green leaf embedded in a blue color circle - was also being introduced. A year later, Bionorica SE exceeded 1,000 employees. As of December 31, 2011, the Group’s net sales increased to EUR 172.1 million.
The Phytothek competence concept, which was specially tailored to the needs of pharmacies active in advisory services in the field of phytomedicine, started in 2012. The Sinupret® extract product innovation was launched in the market in autumn. Sinupret® extract made a significant contribution in ensuring that Bionorica’s turnover mark of EUR 200 million exceeded for the first time in the 2012 financial year.
In November, the research institute ADSI (Austrian Drug Screening Institute) opened in Innsbruck (Austria). The research company of the Leopold-Franzens-University Innsbruck was completely dedicated to drug screening, i.e. the systematic search for new active ingredients and the development of new methods. Bionorica became an exclusive partner in the field of phyto research. The common goal: the comprehensive pharmacological and analytical characterization of medicinal plant extracts.
In 2013, Bionorica celebrated its 80th anniversary. On this occasion, the company held an international scientific symposium in Berlin according to the motto “Phytoneering: One step ahead in thinking and research,” which was attended by around 250 well-known scientists from more than 20 countries, politicians and representatives from associations.
Bionorica launched the “Global Research Initiative” in 2013, a European research prize worth 1 million euros. 20 committed young scientists were awarded 50,000 euros each for work in phyto research.
The Sinupret® extract success story continued: The herbal medicinal product was launched in ten other countries in 2014. Canephron® was also continuing its successes and became the market leader in Germany by 2014.
The company also grew internationally: Bionorica opened up new markets, for example in China, Turkey and Mexico. A joint venture was opened in India. ”Sa Canova”, a medicinal plant competence center and training location, was also inaugurated in Majorca.
2015 until today
After Bionorica was chosen by “markt intern” as the best pharmacy partner from the doctor’s point of view, Professor Popp received another important award in 2015: He was inducted in the “Handelsblatt Hall of Fame of family businesses” and thus belongs to the group of important German family businesses.
At the end of 2015, the Phytokids Foundation was given a new name: Leon Heart Foundation. The lion is a protective symbol for the children and at the same time stands for the foundation itself: “The kids fight like lions to get healthy. And we as a foundation fight like lions to enable the kids to have a better life, ”explains Professor Popp, who was born under the zodiac sign Leo.
Bionorica continues to invest heavily in Austria and opens its own sales office in April 2016 in the heart of the city of Vienna. From there, the Austria-wide sales force and marketing are controlled operationally.
In July 2016, Professor Popp received the Bavarian Order of Merit award from the hands of the former Bavarian Prime Minister Horst Seehofer. Professor Dr. Michael A. Popp has made an outstanding contribution to Bavaria and its citizens through his sustained entrepreneurial commitment and his outstanding voluntary work, according to the Order’s Advisory Board, consisting of the President of the Landtag and the Deputy Prime Minister.
Just in time for the fourth birthday of Sinupret® eXtract, the package got a new look. By highlighting “eXtract” and significantly more orange accents, Sinupret® eXtract now also stood out visually from the other products, especially Sinupret® forte.
With the celebratory groundbreaking ceremony, the establishment of a location in Voronezh, Russia, began in July 2017. With its own plant in Russia, Bionorica plans to expand capacities and achieve shorter delivery routes and times.
The focus moved to Austria three months later: the Michael Popp Institute for new Phyto Entities was established at the University of Innsbruck. The aim of the institute is to learn more about the healing power of plants and to produce effective herbal medicines through cutting-edge research. The two endowed professorships at the Leopold Franzens University in Innsbruck were funded by the State of Tyrol and the Michael A. Popp nature science foundation. Professor Dr. Michael A. Popp and the state of Tyrol are investing a total of around five million euros in the new competence center for natural products research.
In April 2018 the non-profit foundation (founded as Phytokids Foundation) was renamed the “Natureheart Foundation for Kids.” The new name exhibits an additional aspect at the center of the foundation’s work: teaching children about natural skills so that they can understand and respect nature.
In an international clinical study published in October 2018, Bionorica proves that the traditional herbal medicinal product Canephron® is not inferior to an antibiotic in the treatment of acute uncomplicated bladder infections*. (1) (2)
Effective May 1, 2019, Bionorica SE sells its cannabis business to Canopy Growth Corporation. A long-term research collaboration between the two companies has also been agreed.
On the occasion of Professor Dr. Michael A. Popp's 60th birthday, his biography "The Sinupret Story" was published at the end of September 2019 by the publishing cooperation Murmann | Haufe (link to online store).
At the end of January 2020, the Michael Popp Research Institute for new Phyto Entities was officially opened in Innsbruck, Tyrol, thus commencing its work.
Effective: April 2021
*Canephron® is a traditional herbal medication for supportive treatment and for complementing specific treatment measures for low-grade symptoms from inflammatory conditions of the urinary tract.