From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
merged with Hoechst AG
Industry Chemicals
Founded 1928
Founder Étienne Poulenc
Products Chemicals and pharmaceuticals

Rhône-Poulenc (French pronunciation: ​[ʁon pulɛ̃k]) was a French chemical and pharmaceutical company. In 1997, its chemicals division was spun off into a separate company named Rhodia. Rhodia was acquired by the Solvay group after a successful tender offer completed in September 2011. The agricultural chemicals division of Rhône-Poulenc, known as Aventis CropScience after the merger with Hoechst, was sold to the German chemical and pharmaceutical company Bayer in 2002.


The company was founded in 1928 through the merger of Société des usines chimiques du Rhône (Society of Rhône Chemical Factories) from Lyon and Établissements Poulenc Frères (Poulenc Brothers Company) from Paris founded by Étienne Poulenc, a 19th-century Parisian apothecary and brought to prominence by his second and third sons Émile and Camille Poulenc (1864–1942). In 1950, the company synthesized chlorpromazine which it sold to Smith, Kline & French (today part of GlaxoSmithKline) who marketed the drug as Thorazine.[1] In January 1999, Rhône-Poulenc merged with Hoechst AG to form Aventis. In 2004, Aventis went on to merge with Sanofi-Synthélabo forming Sanofi-Aventis, the third largest pharmaceutical company in the world. In 2011 Sanofi-Aventis decided to drop the Aventis suffix and change its name to Sanofi.

In 1997 Rhône-Poulenc came to play a central part in what is claimed to be the worst environmental accident in Sweden's history. Rhône-Poulenc supplied Rhoca-Gil for the building of the Hallandsas tunnel. The chemical leaked into the artesian water, causing great damage to cattle, surrounding nature and workers at the of construction site. Rhône-Poulenc was criticised for not pointing out the risks of using the sealant, which contained Acrylamide and is considered to be carcinogenic. Criminal charges were brought against the company and In June 2001, the managing director of the former Rhône-Poulenc Sweden was found guilty of breaching the Chemical Products Act.[citation needed]

Rhône-Poulenc originally funded the Rhône-Poulenc Prizes, now known as the Royal Society Prizes for Science Books.


  • Chauveau, Sophie. 1999. L'invention pharmaceutique : la pharmacie française entre l'Etat et la société au XXe siècle. Le Plessis-Robinson: Sanofi-Synthélabo.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Whitaker, Robert (2002). Mad in America. Perseus (Basic Books). p. 142. ISBN 978-0-465-02014-0.