1927 - 1955
1927, in Milan Elio Bracco establishes the Italian Prodotti E. Merck company.
In 1930 the company becomes Italmerck Spa and the following year it builds a factory in Via Renato Fucini with a pentagonal floorplan, echoed in the geometric design of the Bracco logo more than thirty years later.
In 1934 Fulvio Bracco officially joins the company, which begins Cebion's marketing the same year. Cebion is an innovative product based on vitamin C recently discovered by the Hungarian professor Szent-Györgyi.
From an initial workforce of 17 employees, the company now has 82 employees: 41 factory workers (including 30 women), 26 office staff, 12 chemists, technicians and physicians, and 3 managers.
In 1936, the Anonima Bracco company, already Italmerck is established.
WAR AND RECONSTRUCTION
With the outbreak of war, the company experiences hard years. For the entire duration of the war, the company undertakes to hold open the jobs of employees who have enlisted and pay their salaries to their families; it also organises a series of other social initiatives (holiday camps, subsidies, etc.).
Procurement of raw materials from Merck Germany becomes difficult, Bracco and Cilag AG Switzerland form Cilag Italiana, to guarantee the supply of raw materials. Bracco thus becomes a chemicals producer.
In 1946 Bracco presents new contrast agents on the market and in 1948 resumes production of medical products; a key event is the market debut of a product of great importance, Diazil.
In 1949 Bracco approves the project for the construction of a new factory in Milan (Lambrate), completed in 1953.
Ten years later, the Lambrate facility has a surface area of 50,000 m2, of which 30,000 indoors, housing production lines and the new research labs headed by professor Ernst Felder (a key scientific figure in the company), whose work focuses largely on chemotherapy and contrast agents for diagnostic radiology.
1955 - 1988
RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT
In 1955 Cilag Italiana changes its name to Industria Chimica Dr Fulvio Bracco, and again in 1958, to Bracco Industria Chimica Spa.
In 1962 Bracco researchers develop the first original contrast agent from their in-house research, with reduced toxicity and high tolerability: iodamide.
By 1965 the company has operations worldwide; in 1966 Diana Bracco, daughter of the company chairman, joins the firm.
Despite the difficulties experienced by the pharmaceuticals industry in the 1970s, Bracco intensifies its R&D work in imaging diagnostics, establishing itself in just a few years as a world leader in the production of second-generation non-ionic contrast agents.
In 1981 sees the launch in Italy and Germany of Iopamidol, the first non-ionic contrast agent developed from Bracco research, with outstanding tolerability, whose stability means it can be stored in phials for unlimited periods of time.
In 1976 the partnership between Bracco and Squibb & Sons Inc. USA for the sale of contrast agents in the USA becomes operational.
In march 17th, 1977 Diana Bracco is appointed General Manager.
In the second half of the 1980s Bracco Spa is a leading international producer of non-ionic contrast agents. Other formulations achieve a positive response and important results, including the anti-tuberculosis drug pyrazinamide, included in the WHO list of essential pharmaceuticals, of which Bracco is the leading world producer.
1988 - 2000
THE internationalISATION PROCESS
In 1988 a very big Bracco facility opens in Ceriano Laghetto, near Milan, on a 300,000 m2 site, to produce raw materials for pharmaceutical use, mainly contrast agents for imaging diagnostics.
Bracco begins a ten-year period of important international growth.
Acquisitions, joint-ventures and new business units enhance the Group structure.
The first step is taken in 1987 with the acquisition of the Swiss company Sintetica SA of Mendrisio, now Bracco Suisse.
In 1989 Bracco Research SA in Geneva was established as Bracco’s second R&D unit, specialising in contrast agents for ultrasound scanning and systems for controlled release of active agents; while in 1990 Bracco Eisai (51% Bracco - 49% Eisai) was established as a joint-venture with Eisai of Tokyo set up to produce and market a number of Bracco contrast agents in Japan.
The expansion in the U.S. market took place in 1994 through the acquisition of Squibb Diagnostics, Princeton (NJ) a company of the multinational giant Bristol Myers Squibb. Two years after the establishment of Bracco Diagnostics Inc, Bracco Research USA (Princeton), R&D Bracco third unit, was opened. The Unit was specialized in MRI and nuclear medicine. Today the United States is the largest market of Bracco.
The period also sees the formation of Bracco Diagnostics Inc. Canada, a branch of Bracco Diagnostics Inc. USA, and Bracco Imaging BV in Plan-les-Ouates (Geneva), now Bracco Suisse, specialising in contrast agents for ultrasound scanning.
In 1994 the Bracco-Byk Gulden GmbH joint-venture begins operations to prepare the documents for the approval of contrast agents in Germany, France, Benelux, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland.
The highlight of 1995 is the integration of the 3 research centres in Milan, Geneva and Princeton: Milan focuses on R&D into contrast agents for radiology and magnetic resonance, Bracco Research Geneva on ultrasound scanning and Bracco Research USA Princeton on magnetic resonance and nuclear medicine.
In 1999 the Bracco family and Merck reach an agreement for Bracco to purchase Merck’s 50% share in the Group’s diagnostic and pharmaceuticals operations.
2001 – 2014
GROWTH AND INNOVATION
2001 sees the launch of Sonovue, a second-generation contrast agent conceived in the Bracco Research labs in Geneva and developed at the world’s leading ultrasound research centres.
International growth continues with a number of new companies established around the world:
In 2001 Bracco opened in Colleretto Giacosa near Ivrea, within the structure Bioindustry Park Canavese, the largest Bracco Research Center active in the initial discovery phase of new molecules and new sustainable processes (new forms of packaging). The CRB is set up to conduct basic research activities, develop and produce imaging agents. It employs new-generation tools to handle a broad range of activities encompassing discovery, industrialization and direct production for the market. Specifically, the center works on advanced magnetic resonance imaging applications and nanotechnologies for diagnostics. Its research projects investigate new molecules, which are assessed for subsequent development, and produce scientific literature (an annual average of 15 articles in leading journals) and patents.
In 2002 it was also inaugurated SPIN, a production unit dedicated to the contrast media for X-Ray Torviscosa (Udine). SPIN is a reclamation of a famous industrial site constructed in the 1930s, located in Torviscosa, in a beautiful lagoon area near Udine, in Friuli Venezia Giulia. The aim of the project was to build new premises of excellence for Spin, a Bracco Group company specialised in the production of contrast media. Furthermore, the technical objective of the project was to rebuild the buildings from the inside, without altering the exterior architecture, considered of great historical value. The result is a modern and futuristic production facility - inserted in a tower, stemming from significant structural works - and a new research laboratory. The plant is located in a strategic area, not only due to its position in the heart of Europe, but also for the territory's deep-rooted chemical know how and skills, resulting from the virtuous integration of industry and territory.
The internationalization meanwhile continuea and Bracco opens several other locations around the world.
Since 2002 Bracco is directly present in China with the Bracco Sine Pharmaceutical Corp. Ltd. Site in Shanghai, a joint-venture partner of Sine Pharma. The initiative marks a further step in the expansion strategy of the Bracco Group in China, where the company was already present with offices in Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai, and with a group of specialists engaged in clinical research. Bracco in China has also been able to build strong relationships with the scientific, academic and healthcare Chinese hospitals undergoing rapid development and diffusion of advanced technologies. The Group now offers integrated solutions for medical imaging, in which it is among the first three "top players" in the country.
In the following years Bracco continues to land in other countries of strategic importance to the Group:
- (2001) Bracco Far East Ltd based in Hong Kong.
- (2001) Bracco UK Limited, for imaging operations in the UK and Ireland.
- (2003) Bracco Oesterreich GmbH, for commercial operations in Austria.
- (2010) Bracco Imaging Scandinavia AB, for commercial operations in Scandinavia.
- (2011) Bracco Imaging Slovakia, for commercial operations in Slovakia.
- (2011) Bracco Imaging Polska, for commercial operations in Poland.
- (2011) Bracco Imaging Czech, for commercial operations in the Czech Republic.
As for acquisitions, in 2001 ACIST Medical Systems a leader in advanced systems management and administration of contrast media, based in Minneapolis, joined the Bracco Group. ACIST Medical Systems is today a global leader in the contrast agents injection systems for cardiology, radiology and diagnostic purposes. Its products are used in over 40 countries worldwide including medical centers, universities and hospitals of international repute in the U.S., Europe and Japan. More than 10 million patients have already used ACIST injection systems in cardiovascular angiography procedures.
Another acquisition of fundamental importance is EZ-EM, in 2007. E-Z-EM is a leading manufacturer of contrast agents for gastrointestinal radiology. The Company also offers the first family of CT injectors on the market with a patented technology that can help detect contrast extravasation, and offers a complete product set for the virtual colonoscopy practitioner.
Other acquisitions between 2011 and 2012:
- (2011) BIPSO, a contrast agent production facility in Singen, Germany, near Konstanz.
- (2011) Swiss Medical Care, a Swiss company based in Lausanne active in research, production and marketing of automatic contrast agent delivery systems
- (2012) Justesa Imagen Argentina, Brazil and Mexico, an important contrast agent distributor active throughout South America.
During that period Bracco also establishes direct operations in Germany, France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
Today the company is a global leader in diagnostic imaging and is able to offer a portfolio of products and solutions for all diagnostic modalities. Furthermore, the Bracco brand is widely known among the general public in Italy, for drugs, OTC products, supplements, medical devices and cosmetics.