A story of innovation, culture and entrepreneurship since 1890
The documents and photographs of Dompé Archive bring to light an entrepreneurial journey which had at heart the desire to be ahead of its time, since its origins in 1890.
Onorato Dompé is the first main character of this story. Born in 1868, he transforms the family pharmaceutical business from a spice seller workshop into a modern lab, which produces preparations according to the innovative British standards.
In the early 1950s, his son Franco Dompé goes one step further: he commissions the development of cutting-edge machineries for the preparation of medicines in vials, and starts producing drugs on an industrial scale.
The son of Franco, Sergio Dompé, joins the company in the 1970s, soon designing a new path: Dompé farmaceutici's shift to biotech.
Dompé’s pharmaceutical story starts with the young Piedmontese Onorato. After having studied pharmacy and chemistry at the Royal University in Turin, he opens a production lab in Milan, the Dompé-Adami.
Onorato acquires the Farmacia Centrale in Piazza della Scala in Milan. The pharmacy becomes a meeting place for the finest composers of the time, such as Verdi and Puccini. His father Gian Antonio, a pharmaceutical chemistry expert, helps him running and funding the business.
1902 - 1908
Onorato Dompé acquires three other pharmacies in Palermo, Milan and Ponte Chiasso (Switzerland), launching the chain Farmacie Inglesi Dompé. A forward thinker from the very beginning, he produces his drugs according to the innovative British school.
Onorato moves his fast-growing production lab from Corso San Celso to via Pantano 5, close to the Ca’ Granda, Milan’s main hospital (today’s Policlinico).
Onorato Dompé decides to focus on the production side of the business: after having sold his four pharmacies, he purchases a big building in via San Martino 12, and moves there his lab and family. This address is still home to the Milanese headquarters of Dompé farmaceutici.
The son of Onorato, Franco Dompé, follows in his father’s footsteps and graduates in chemistry and pharmacy at the University of Pavia. A great sportsman, he becomes passionate about bobsled. This winter sport will shortly after play a major role in his entrepreneurial journey.
Franco crashes violently during a bobsled training. In the following two years he will undergo numerous surgeries and, most importantly, choose his career path: build a company with the mission to help both the doctors’ job and the convalescents’ recovery.
During the Second World War, the 29-year-old Franco sets up his own production lab, the Dompé farmaceutici.
In mid-August, the British Royal Air Force’s bombing offensive severely damages the building in via San Martino, where Onorato works and lives with his family. Fortunately, everyone survives by taking refuge in the building’s bomb shelter.
The German soldiers seize a huge amount of material from the Onorato’s warehouse: 100 quintals of paraffin, 30 quintals of steel scrap and 210 kg of steel plate.
The 35-year old Franco Dompé decides to take on the reconstruction works of his father’s building and to move there his own business.
Franco Dompé develops an effective communication strategy to enhance the company's brand awareness. As part of his strategy, he launches Bellezza d’Italia, a leisure magazine addressed to doctors that will be widely appreciated thanks to the art direction of the designer Franco Grignani.
Dompé farmaceutici sponsors the 55° edition of the Cimento Invernale in Milan, a winter swimming race taking place in the Naviglio canal. The company warms up the athletes by offering them Dompé’s flagship product, the cough syrup Guaiacalcium.
In the Post-War years, Dompé farmaceutici starts producing drugs on an industrial scale. Most of the companies were coping drugs from each other as patents didn’t exist at the time. Dompé fights this trend by investing in research and innovation.
The renovated building in via San Martino opens its doors in January: its 15.000 m2 production plant hosts innovative machineries for the production of medicines in vials. Among the scientific leaders attending the opening ceremony, there is also Giulio Natta, who will win in 1963 the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
Franco organises the 1st edition of the Giornate Scientifiche Mediterranee for Italian doctors and scientists. During these cruise trips, the guests attend conferences and presentations, and enjoy their time with guided tours and dinners. The 2nd and 3rd edition will take place in ’55 and ’57 respectively.
The company sponsors the VII Olympic Winter Games in Cortina d’Ampezzo. Dompé provides to the athletes racing on the slopes the necessary medication, which is transported on 28 branded vans.
Franco Dompé launches his 10th product: pi-Acca 4, an antispasmodic to treat abdominal pain.
Dompé farmaceutici makes its big screen debut in the Oscar winning movie by Vittorio De Sica, Ieri, Oggi, Domani. It's impossible to forget the sequence where Sophia Loren tries to give to one of her children the cough syrup Guaiacalcium.
1970s - 1980s
The son of Franco, Sergio Dompé, joins the company and defines the new business strategy: increase the company’s investment in research, focus on innovation, and build partnerships with key international players.