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70 Years of Kemofarmacija

Kemofarmacija is celebrating its 70th anniversary. Ever since the company’s founding in 1947, it has been responsible for the reliable, timely and comprehensive distribution of medicines, medical devices and other health-related products to pharmacies, hospitals and other healthcare institutions.

“Kemofarmacija celebrates an important anniversary in 2017 – 70 years. We are very proud of our tradition. Tradition stands for knowledge, experience, trust, responsibility and respect. These qualities are an inseparable part of the values that we live by at Kemofarmacija. We are available to our customers on a daily basis, not just to supply medicines, but also to provide the many innovative solutions that enable them to spend more time dispensing medicines and advising patients,” says Davorin Poherc, Managing Director Slovenia. 

1947: The Founding

Kemofarmacija was founded as a state-owned enterprise of national importance for the supply of medicines and medical materials on 4 October 1947, at Metelkova ulica 7, Ljubljana, following a decision issued by the government of the People’s Republic of Slovenia. The company developed from the Zdravprom company.

After 1947

Kemofarmacija 3

In addition to the shortage of qualified staff, the post-war period was also characterised by a lack of goods, particularly medicines, poor communication and issues with the transport of goods from manufacturers to end users. “We started with 25 employees working in modest, poorly furnished premises with no suitable means of transport or other equipment, but with plenty of good cheer, responsibility and – most importantly – optimism. New lorries were purchased for transport. One of the first vehicles bought was a two-tonne Opel Blitz, the pride and joy of the young staff. For deliveries to pharmacies in Ljubljana, we also used tricycles and handcarts.”

After it was established, Kemofarmacija first focused on furnishing its premises, purchasing the basic equipment and recruiting reliable employees who would provide good services. The company also established an in-house laboratory for galenic formulation, monitoring and analysis. With an overwhelming lack of medicines at the time, galenic and magistral formulations were frequently prepared at pharmacies. Kemofarmacija’s new laboratory significantly improved the quality of the supplied ingredients, active pharmaceutical ingredient, drugs, infusions and chemicals.

Kemofarmacija develops into the largest medicine wholesaler in Yugoslavia

It is time for the first upgrade of the storage facilities. As early as 1952, Kemofarmacija met the conditions for external trade registration, which enabled it to expand its range of imported pharmaceutical and veterinary goods, as well as medical and laboratory equipment. The development of the pharmaceutical industry in Yugoslavia begins, while Kemofarmacija starts to expand its delivery of medicines to other Yugoslav republics.

After 1960


The period after 1960 was a time of rapid growth. The average increase in turnover was over 30%. In the 1960s, a time of liberal economics and a more open approach, the pharmaceutical industry saw a swift growth in the production, import and consumption of medicines. A reputable supplier for the medical industry, in 1967, Kemofarmacija became the leading wholesaler of medicines in Yugoslavia.

The company also made a considerable contribution to the expansion of the pharmacy and hospital network in Slovenia. The market saw important changes after 1972: frozen margins, increased competition from other medicine wholesalers and the related changes in staff, and – most importantly – the rationalisation of spending and the management of medicine costs, which were soon to become a permanent feature in our operations.

In 1975, there was a major fire in the warehouse, instantly destroying the many years of efforts we had made to update the warehousing system. With deteriorating working conditions, Kemofarmacija was forced to consider building new premises and moving to a new location. "Tradition stands for knowledge, experience, trust, responsibility and respect. These qualities are an inseparable part of the values that we live by at Kemofarmacija."

In 1982, the company moved to its current business premises


On its 35th anniversary, in 1982, Kemofarmacija moved into the new, company-owned business premises and storage facilities at Cesta na Brdo 100 in Ljubljana where it still operates today. The development of Kemofarmacija, the leading wholesaler of medicines in Slovenia and Yugoslavia at the time, is based on continuously raising the bar for the full range of supply services in healthcare, active participation in the development of legislation on trade with medicinal products and responsible involvement in the life and work of people in the immediate and general social environment.

2000: Independence of Slovenia

“After Slovenia gained independence in 1991, Kemofarmacija was swiftly able to replace the many missing medicines manufactured by Yugoslav producers with medicines by Slovenian and certain West European producers.”


2004 was an important turning point. Becoming a member of the Celesio Group (today, McKesson Europe), which maintains a presence in 16 European countries, Kemofarmacija enjoyed further development.
A leading international wholesaler and retailer, McKesson Europe also provides logistics and other services for the pharmaceutical and medical industries. With its approach, McKesson Europe ensures that patients receive the medicines and other products, and advice, they need for optimum treatment and care. 


Kemofarmacija continues to keep up with contemporary trends in e-business. Over 90% of pharmacy orders are received electronically. Elona, our web portal for pharmacies, is a modern B2B portal for purchases and communication with customers.

Tradition stands for knowledge, experience, trust, responsibility and respect. These qualities are an inseparable part of the values that we live by at Kemofarmacija.

DAVORIN POHERC, Managing Director Slovenia


Suppliers can use the eProcurement portal for their operations. The Elona and eProcurement portals are connected, enabling us to optimise our business processes.


Our experience in international markets is applied in Slovenia. This has led to the creation of new services, such as the FarmaInfo monthly bulletin, which includes the Receptum supplement, and FarmaPro, a professional training website for physicians and pharmacists.



In 2014, the US company McKesson acquired a majority share in the Celesio Group (today, McKesson Europe). The change in ownership led to the formation of one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical wholesalers and providers of logistics and medical services.

Welcoming new members, the group now operates on 20 markets and employs some 85,000 people. As a member of McKesson Europe under the majority ownership of McKesson, Kemofarmacija has started a new chapter. As ever, we strive to have a positive impact on people’s lives and contribute to better health.


In this anniversary year, the company has undertaken activities to promote social responsibility, encourage a healthy lifestyle and help people on their way to better health and an improved quality of life. The only way to develop and celebrate our shared success is in a healthy and stimulating environment. And this all fits perfectly to the ICARE principles.