The Doctors Bru
Encourager les projets pionniers
et l'excellence au service de belles causes
To encourage pioneering projects
and excellence at the service of fine causes
Home > A success story
Français | English
In the twentieth century, the history of the Bru family was closely linked to the meteoric rise of the pharmaceutical company it had created and developed with enthusiasm and success for 60 years.
In the late 1920s, Camille Bru was a very inventive medical practitioner. After devising a system for X-raying patients, even in remote rural areas, at their bedside, he had the idea of creating an effervescent solution to facilitate digestion. In 1935, when he launched production at his home in Agen, he founded the laboratories of the Union Pharmaceutique des Sciences Appliquées (UPSA). He was also a pioneer in the field of marketing, creating the revolutionary clover-shaped Normogastryl pillbox that became familiar to people all over France. By 1958, when he died, the UPSA firm employed about sixty people.
Camille Bru’s only son and successor, Dr Jean Bru, also showed a flair for invention. In 1960 he developed the first effervescent aspirin with Vitamin C, Efferalgan, and also Betaine Citrate. Sales exploded and the company attained international status, with awards in 1982 (Oscar de l’exportation, mention d’excellence). Despite a difficult economic climate, a proactive policy in the early 1990s enabled the UPSA Group not only to cope with the price freeze imposed on medicinal products, but also to increase its turnover by 50% in three years. Dr Jean Bru’s primary aim –more important still than developing the UPSA Group – was the worldwide improvement of pain relief. A young doctor, who had been working for the firm since 1971, shared the same passion for research and innovation. Her name was Nicole Magniez. She became his wife in 1980.
Dr Nicole Bru joined her husband at the head of the Group, but when Jean Bru died suddenly in 1989 she was left to hold the reins alone. The firm employed 1,400 people by that time, including 200 researchers. She was to make it into one of the world’s leading firms in its field of competence: in five years under her chairmanship, UPSA doubled its turnover, becoming the top firm in Europe for analgesics and the top firm in the world for effervescence technology. In 1994, however, in order to pay the inheritance tax she owed, Dr Nicole Bru was forced to sell the family firm, which by then had over 2,000 employees.
The family house in Agen where UPSA began
As the depositary of this entrepreneurial success and human adventure, Dr Nicole Bru continues to uphold its values through her strong commitment to worthy causes.
Thus, in 1993, she created the Institut UPSA de la Douleur (IUD), of which she was chairman until 2001. In 1994, came the Association Docteurs Bru, which in 1996 set up a pilot project in the house in Agen where the firm began: the Maison d'accueil Jean Bru, a reception centre for girls under the age of 18 who have suffered sexual abuse or incest.
Finally, in 2005 Dr Nicole Bru gathered all her humanitarian and cultural sponsorship initiatives under the umbrella of the Fondation Bru, a foundation devoted entirely to supporting well-conceived pioneering projects that aim to serve a useful purpose.
Camille Bru had had the idea of including in the packaging of Normogastryl a small box in the shape of a three-leaf clover, intended to hold a day’s dose of tablets. This box, which could be slipped into a pocket, later became a four-leaf clover, to hold three tablets, plus one for a friend!
This original idea had a strong impact and on the initiative of Camille’s son, Jean Bru, the four-leaf clover became the logo of Laboratoires UPSA in 1970.