Obituary: Pharmaceutical industry pioneer Sir Graeme Douglas

West Auckland chemist-turned-pharmaceutical entrepreneur Sir Graeme Douglas, 87, has died, it was revealed today.

He started his business empire in 1967 when as a chemist in Te Atatu he created a cough syrup called Kofsin, the first of many successful products.

The business also began importing specialist drugs, then packaging and distributing them to other chemists from the shop.

This enterprise evolved into Douglas Pharmaceuticals, which by the late 1980s was a major domestic supplier and exporter.

The company specialises in treatments for immuno-suppression, oncology, dermatology and the central nervous system but has recently expanded into nutrional products and sexual dysfunction.

An acne cream was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, a first by a New Zealand company.

In 2011, the company produced more than 455 million tablets, 270,000 litres as 31 tonnes of medicines, liquids and creams.

Today, run by son Jeff, Douglas Pharmaceuticals employs 450 people and supplies some 30 generic products to more than 60 customers in 35 countries from a $21 million facility in Henderson. Sales revenue of the family owned company exceeds $200 million annually.

Sir Graeme was a leader of the West Auckland business community, being admitted to its inaugural Hall of Fame earlier this year.

He was recognised for his contribution to business and philanthropy with a knighthood in 2010 and made the single largest donation, an MRI scanner, to Auckland's Starship children's hospital.

Sir Graeme and Lady Douglas also made donations to a number of Waitakere sports and medical facilities, such as the Trusts Stadium and the West Auckland hospice, as well as research organisations  the Neurological Foundation, Heart Foundation, Cancer Society, Liggins Institute and the Oliver Smales Memorial Trust.

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