Block Drug

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Block Drug Company
Industry Pharmaceutical
Fate Acquired
Successor GlaxoSmithKline
Founded 1907
Defunct 2001
Headquarters Jersey City, New Jersey, United States
Products Polident, Poli-Grip, Dentu-Creme, Nytol, Tegrin, Lava Soap, Beano, Phazyme, Balmex, Sensodyne
Number of employees
3,000

Block Drug Company was a pharmaceutical company based in Jersey City, New Jersey, United States, that specialized in dental care products.

GlaxoSmithKline purchased the company for $1.7 billion in 2001.[1]

Its most popular products included Polident denture cleanser, Poli-Grip denture adhesive, Dentu-Creme denture toothpaste, Nytol sleeping pill, Tegrin medicated shampoo for psoriasis, Lava hand soaps (acquired from Procter & Gamble), Beano and Phazyme anti-gas products, Balmex diaper rash ointments, and Sensodyne desensitizing toothpaste.[2]

History[edit]

The company was founded in 1907 by Alexander Block, a Russian immigrant who had a small drugstore on Fulton Street in Brooklyn, New York. He turned the company into a wholesaler in 1915 and then became a drug manufacturer in 1925, acquiring a 50 percent interest in Wernet's Dental Manufacturing Company.[2]

Block Drug moved its headquarters to Jersey City, New Jersey in 1938.[3]

Although Alexander Block built the company largely through acquisitions, he developed the Polident brand internally during the 1930s.[4] In 1948, Block Drug rolled out the Ammi-i-Dent tooth powder, and in the early 1950s, the company developed Nytol.[5] After Alexander Block's death in 1953,[4] his son Leonard N. Block (1911–2005)[3] took over, eventually becoming the company's chairman.[4] The last major new product the company introduced was Tegrin, in 1964.[4]

In 1971, the company went public, trading on NASDAQ under the ticker symbol BLOCA and raising $5.2 million in its initial offering.[5] Two years later, another stock sale generated $23 million.[5] Later in the 1970s, Efferdent took over from Polident as the No. 1 brand in its space.[4]

In 1972, the company named as its president James Block, who was the grandson of Alexander Block and the nephew of Leonard N. Block.[4] In 1988, James became chairman as his uncle, Leonard N. Block became senior chairman.[5] At the same time, Leonard N. Block's son, Thomas, became the company's president.[5][6]

In 1978, Block Drug entered the feminine hygiene market, with the ultimately unsuccessful Gentle Spring brand.[7]

In 1983, Block Drug acquired Passaic, New Jersey-based 2000 Flushes toilet bowl cleaner manufacturer Flushco.[5] In 1985, Block Drug acquired the X-14 line of hard surface cleaners from White Laboratories.[5] Block Drug later acquired Gold Bond in 1987.

By the 1990s, sales began to fall as Block Drug's products began to age and face new competition, and the problem was exacerbated by a lack of new products.[5]

In 1990, Block Drug sold Gold Bond to Martin Himmel Inc..

In 1992, Block Drug acquired Phazyme from Reed and Carnrick.

In 1995, Block Drug divested its U.S. Reed and Carnrick Pharmaceuticals Division to Schwarz Pharma KermersUrban and also purchased Reckitt and Colman's Carpet Fresh and Rug Fresh cleaning and deodorizing products.[6] Also, in late 1995, Block Drug acquired the Lava soap brand from Procter & Gamble.[6]

In 1996, Block Drug purchased the Baby's Own line of baby care products, and then acquired Beano antigas tablets in 1997.[6]

In 1998, a major restructuring took place but was not successful.[5] As part of that, the company divested Carpet Fresh, Rug Fresh, 2000 Flushes and X-14.[6] Lava was later sold to WD-40 the following year.

In 2000, Block Drug hired Goldman Sachs as an adviser to evaluate a potential sale.[8]

At the time of its sale to Glaxo, Block Drug was reported to have $900 million in annual sales, operations in 100 countries and employed 3,000 people.[1]

Secrecy[edit]

Although Block Drug was a public company from 1971 until 2001, it operated much like a private, family-run firm, with the Block family holding all voting shares plus 54 percent of the non-voting stock. In addition, the company never held annual meetings or issued proxy statements.[5]

Aftermath[edit]

Leonard N. Block died in 2005 at age 93 after suffering for years from Alzheimer's disease.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b GlaxoSmithKline Completes the Purchase of Block Drug for $1.24 Billion -prnewswire - January 16, 2001
  2. ^ a b The Gale Group. International Directory of Company Histories, republished at "Block Drug Company, Inc.: Information from Answers.com". Answers Corporation.
  3. ^ a b c Saxon, Wolfgang (2005-11-12). "Leonard Block, 93, Chief of Drug Company, Is Dead". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-04-26. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f "New Chip at the Old Block?". Forbes. May 29, 1978. p. 48. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Goldblatt, Dan (September 7, 1994). "New Jersey's most private public company". Northern Business. p. 48. 
  6. ^ a b c d e http://www.fundinguniverse.com/company-histories/Block-Drug-Company-Inc-Company-History.html
  7. ^ "New Chip at the Old Block?". Chicago Sun-Times. May 29, 1978. p. 48. 
  8. ^ Clark, Andrew (October 7, 2000). "SmithKline to swallow Sensodyne: Aquafresh maker lines up Dollars 1.2bn bid for privately owned toothpaste company Block Drug". The Guardian (London). p. 29.