More than 100 years of working for health and wellbeing
Oriola has been strongly involved with building Nordic welfare states and healthcare in Finland and Sweden.
The current Oriola Corporation was established in 2006 after Orion Group demerged to two new stock listed companies: Orion Corporation and Oriola-KD Corporation. However, the roots of the company go back more than 100 years: in Sweden to the establishment of the medicine wholesaler Kronans Droghandel in 1907, and in Finland to the foundation of Oriola Oy in 1948.
Over the decades, Oriola has become a strong actor in the Finnish and Swedish markets, and the company has taken part in creating reliable medicine distribution that meets the demands of the modern healthcare. Since the 2000s, Oriola has further expanded and is now a comprehensive pharmaceutical expert organisation. In addition to high-quality medicine distribution, its services include pharmaceutical expert services, dose dispensing and pharmacy operations. Oriola-owned pharmacy chain Kronans Apotek is the third largest pharmacy chain in Sweden.
Milestones in the company’s history
In Sweden, medicine wholesale began in 1907, when Kronans Droghandel AB was established in the pharmacy Apoteket Kronan in Gothenburg. However, the story of Apoteket Kronan dates back centuries: it was established in 1650 with permission from King Karl X. After the pharmacy owner of Apoteket Strutsen had been enrolled to assist in the embalming of the famous King Karl XII in 1718, the pharmacy was allowed to change its name to Apoteket Kronan as a royal privilege.
Kronans Droghandel was a pharmaceutical wholesaler owned and managed by the pharmacist family Bernström. In 1959, several pharmaceutical companies started a common company and bought Kronans Droghandel.
The Finnish Oriola Oy was founded in 1948 and entrusted with importing and distributing medicines and sanitary wares for Finland’s post-war reconstruction period. Special emphasis was put on products and speciality products that were considered essential for the development of healthcare in the country. The first medicine imported and distributed by Oriola was Novo Therapeutic Laboratorio's insulin. In 1951, Oriola launched wholesale operations for medicines and pharmaceutical raw materials for the pharmaceutical industry.
In 1960, pharmaceuticals were freed from customs duties in Finland and the number of Oriola's foreign pharmaceutical company customers increased. As the business grew, the company’s premises in the Vallila district in Helsinki became too small, and Oriola moved to new premises in Mankkaa, Espoo, in 1968. The move also supported the development of efficient logistics to meet customer needs even better, when international customers shifted to the single wholesale channel in Finland in 1971. At the start of the 1970s, services expanded to cover also medical and laboratory supplies.
In 1971, Sweden’s pharmacies were nationalised, and the pharmacy market became a monopoly. Kronans Droghandel AB continued to distribute pharmaceuticals to pharmacies.
In the 1980s, Oriola grasped the opportunities of a growing natural product market. The acquisition of Reformi Keskus strengthened wholesale cooperation with natural product retailers and groceries. PanSuola, a unique mineral salt that is still one of the success products of Oriola's own product range, originates from this era.
With its international customers and subsidiaries, in the 1990s Oriola became an international organisation offering healthcare expert services. Oriola started pharmaceutical wholesale operations in Estonia in 1990, and was the first Finnish pharmaceutical wholesaler in the Baltic countries. Operations started in Lithuania in 1994 and in Latvia in 1995.
In Sweden, Oriola became a significant player in 2003 after the acquisition and merger of Kronans Droghandel AB, the second largest pharmaceutical wholesaler in the country. In 2006, Oriola demerged from Orion and was listed on the stock exchange. Until 2017, the company was known as Oriola-KD.
Between 2008 and 2014, Oriola had operations in the Russian pharmaceutical wholesale and retail market. Between 2007 and 2010, the company sold its dental and healthcare trade businesses. In 2017, the Baltic businesses were sold to the companies’ existing management. After that, Oriola has focused on developing services in its main markets in Finland and Sweden.
In 2010, the pharmacy market change in Sweden enabled Oriola to start its own pharmacy business. Kronans Apotek was founded after the acquisition of Medstop pharmacies in 2013, and today it is Sweden’s third largest pharmacy chain. To support its pharmacy services and the safety of pharmacotherapy, Oriola started dose-dispensing services in Sweden in 2015 and the year after in Finland through acquisitions. After two new acquisitions in 2016 and 2017, the company further expanded its business to pharmaceutical expert services in Finland and Sweden, and to staffing services to pharmacies in Finland. The staffing services were sold to Eezy in the spring 2022.