Charles E. Frosst & Co.

If you've ever awakened in the morning with a pounding head or assorted other aches, Charles Frosst has probably come to your rescue.

The pharmaceutical company Frosst founded in Montreal in 1899 introduced Canadians to a trio of numbered painkillers known as 217s, 222s, and 282, which have been easing hurts and pains since World War 1.

Though he was born in Richmond, Virginia, Frosst came to Canada in 1892 as a 25-year-old-salesmen for Henry Wampole & Co. Wampole sent him all over Canada, and his soft accent and straight thinking helped him develop a reputation as an accomplished and knowledgeable pharmaceutical sales person. He also cultivated contacts with a network of people in the medical establishment. In 1899, at a time when the Canadian pharmaceutical industry was in its infancy, Frosst struck out on his own by setting up a drug company in Montreal, where he had an excellent relationship with McGill University's Department of Medicine. From the start, Frosst made it clear that Charles E. Frosst & Co. would introduce innovative new products.

Working from a modest 2000 square foot laboratory, Frosst researched and developed his own formulas, built some of his own machinery, and initially handled the sale of his products. At the start of the Great War, he introduced Frosst 217s and Frosst 222s, numbers being a common way of identifying product lines at the time. With millions of pain sufferers around the globe using the pills, the company soon became a household name....

In 1943 at age 76, Frosst gave up his day to day work, leaving his sons in charge of the company. When he died in 1948, he was still making occasional visits to the company's Montreal headquarters where his staff was developing the country's first radioactive pharmaceutical products, which later were sold in Canada and abroad.

In 1959 Charles Frosst and Co. went public and six years later it was acquired by Merck & Co. Inc., of New Jersey. In 2001 the company was known as Merck Frosst Canada Ltd. and its main activities - the discovery, development, manufacturing, and distribution of medicines - were much the same as those carried on by Charles Frosst a century earlier.

Excerpted from Kearney and Ray's I Know That Name! (2002, pp. 88 and 89)

Learn more about Frosst and Merck Frosst here, here, and here

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