Company history

1933 – 1970 Foundation and the early days

Josef Popp, founder of Bionorica

Josef Popp, the grandfather of the current owner Prof. Dr Michael A. Popp, establishes Bionorica in 1933. He markets the first natural remedies and almost 400 different types of tea. The founder remains at the head of the company for twelve years, until his children take over management of the company in 1945: Erna Popp, a qualified pharmacist, and Dr Hans-Oskar Popp, a doctor who has specialised in natural remedies. The company continues to develop under this new dual management: in 1961, Bionorica already has a filling machine, labelling machine and its first employees.

1970 - 1990 Progress and research

The company continues to grow through the 1970s and 80s. Bionorica starts up a scientific field force for personal consultations with general practitioners. Research also continues to grow in importance: Bionorica is one of the very first pharmaceutical companies to start to test herbal medicines in controlled double-blind studies.

Site in Neumarkt

Prof. Dr Michael A. Popp, the grandson of the founder of the company, takes over the management of Bionorica production (Plantamed Arzneimittel) in 1988. At the same time, the company moves from Nuremberg to Neumarkt in the Upper Palatinate, Bavaria. In 1989, Professor Popp is then also appointed chief executive of Bionorica GmbH. 29 years old at the time, the pharmacist is consistent in following the path taken by the family company and starts intensive research in the fields of cultivation, analysis, pharmacology, toxicology and clinical use. Bionorica sets global standards in the field of Phytomedicine.

1990 - 2000 Internationalisation and expansion

Bionorica promotes its interests abroad through active cooperation with national and international distribution partners. In addition, the company sets up two subsidiaries in Hungary, Herbextract and Mediplant, which cultivate plants for Bionorica. Bionorica Extracts S.L. is set up in Mallorca for the cultivation of medicinal plants and the production of special extracts.

Medical plants Mallorca

1996 is a stand-out year for research at Bionorica: scientists establish the hitherto unknown, but extremely important, effect of common sorrel herb in the anti-inflammatory properties of Sinupret®. Furthermore, they find evidence for the antiviral effects of primula and verbena. One year later, Sinupret® and Sinupret® forte are granted new marketing authorisation in Germany. In the same year, Bionorica starts its own cultivation of thyme in Mallorca to obtain optimum raw materials for the production of Bronchipret®. The company standardises all its production processes world-wide. Furthermore, the company sets up a branch in Moscow (Russia), with further branches following in Minsk (Belarus) and in Almaty (Kazakhstan).

2000 - 2010 Consolidation and growth

In addition to its respiratory tract products, gynaecological products are now included in the important preparations manufactured by the company. Through intensive research on monk's pepper, Bionorica manages to identify the active substances that reduce prolactin levels in women and thus actively counteract menstrual cycle disorders and breast pain.

Bionorica is transformed into a public limited company in 2001. The company formula for success, the linking of phyto (Greek for plant = unlocking of the huge active substance potential in plants) and engineering (use of high-tech research and innovative technologies) is expressed by Bionorica in its new company tagline: BIONORICA AG – The Phytoneering company.


Bionorica also continues to grow in the 2000s: the company sets up another branch in Kiev (Ukraine). The pharmaceutical manufacturer also takes over Delta-9-Pharma GmbH. In 2002, this new addition introduces onto the German market the active substance from cannabis that is of greatest pharmacological importance as a prescription medicine. Bionorica AG celebrates its 70th anniversary in September 2003 and also welcomes the then-Governor of Bavaria, Dr. Edmund Stoiber, as a visitor to the company.

Bionorica asserts itself as a manufacturer of herbal medicines and expands on its market-leading position in spite of the changes due to the German Health System Modernisation Act (GMG), which remove Bionorica's medicinal products from the list of prescription medicines in 2004. Despite this the global demand for highly effective herbal medicines with few side effects continues to grow and is unstoppable.
In 2005, Bionorica research GmbH is founded in Innsbruck (Austria). Its core areas focus on the research and development of herbal medicines, including in the fields of respiratory tract diseases and chronic pain. This is the first private facility of its kind in Austria.

Leon Heart Foundation

In 2007, Professor Popp founds the charitable foundation "Phytokids" (now the Natureheart Foundation for Kids). Its purpose is to fund, care for and support children and adolescents in social and medical institutions and children's homes all over the world. The foundation starts up its first projects in Eastern Europe in the same year.

Bionorica ethics GmbH is also created from Delta-9-Pharma GmbH in 2007. Bionorica ethics GmbH develops new medicines and active substances for oncology and pain therapy.

In July 2007, Bionorica AG inaugurates its new office building in Neumarkt. It is in harmony with nature: the combination of innovative energy technologies (e.g. high-tech photovoltaic installations, combined heat and power plant/fuelled with sustainable raw materials) and intelligent materials (e.g. special dual-component carpets) represents a milestone in construction with reference to ecological effectiveness, environmental friendliness and health compatibility for the employees. The new company headquarters is one of the most sustainable office buildings in Europe and thus an expression of the company philosophy being put into practice.

Angela Merkel visits Bionorica

In 2008, Bionorica celebrates its 75th anniversary. Michael Glos, the Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Technology at the time, visits the company for this occasion. One year later, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is also welcomed as a guest at Bionorica AG. The Chancellor is given an insight into the intensive research programme and into the manufacture of herbal medicines during a tour around the production area and a personal conversation with Professor Popp. She emphasises the great importance of medium-sized companies to the German economy in her speech to the employees of Bionorica AG.

2010 -  today: International growth & umbrella brand strategy

In 2010, Bionorica AG is transformed into a European public limited-liability company: Bionorica SE. In the same year, all herbal medicines are given newly designed packaging in a step-by-step process. The company logo - a green leaf embedded in a solid blue circle - is also newly introduced. One year later, Bionorica SE has exceeded the benchmark of 1,000 employees. By 31 December 2011, the net turnover for the group has increased to 172.1 m Euros.


The competence concept, Phytothek, is started in 2012, which is specifically tailored to the needs of pharmacies that are active in consultation. In the autumn, the product innovation Sinupret® extract, a further development of Sinupret® forte, is released onto the market. This highly concentrated form of Sinupret® is a new option for the treatment of acute sinusitis. Sinupret® extract is instrumental in Bionorica exceeding a turnover of 200 m Euros for the first time in the 2012 financial year.

The research institute ADSI (Austrian Drug Screening Institute) is opened in Innsbruck (Austria) in November. The research company is run by the Leopold-Franzens University of Innsbruck and dedicates itself fully to drug screening, i.e. to the systematic search for new active substances and the development of innovative methods. Bionorica is its exclusive partner in the field of phytoresearch. Their joint objective is the comprehensive pharmacological and analytical characterisation of medicinal plant extracts.

In 2013, Bionorica celebrates its 80th anniversary. As part of these celebrations the company organises an international symposium in Berlin on 27 February, entitled "Phytoneering: One step ahead in thinking and research", which is attended by 250 leading scientists from over 20 countries, as well as politicians and representatives from various associations and business.

Global Research Initiative

Bionorica sets up the "Global Research Initiative" in 2013, a European research award with prize money amounting to 1 m Euros. This prize money is awarded to 20 junior scientists for work in phytoresearch, with each receiving 50,000 Euros.

The Sinupret® extract success story continues: the herbal medicine is introduced in ten further countries in 2014. Canephron® also continues its success and becomes the market leader in Germany in 2014.
The company is also growing at an international level: for example, Bionorica is opening up new markets in China, Turkey and Mexico. In addition, "Sa Canova", a medicinal plant centre of excellence further training site, is inaugurated in Mallorca.

The Phytokids Foundation is renamed at the end of 2015: Leon Heart Foundation. The lion is a symbol of protection for the children and simultaneously represents the foundation itself: "The kids fight like lions to regain their health. And, as a foundation, we fight like lions to improve life for the kids", declares Professor Popp, who was born under the Leo star sign.

Handelsblatt Hall of Fame for Family-run Companies

In 2015, after Bionorica is selected by trade publisher "markt intern" as the best partner for pharmacies from the perspective of doctors, Professor Popp is accorded an important honour with his induction into the "Handelsblatt Hall of Fame for Family-run Companies" and thus joins a prestigious circle of German family businessmen and women.

In July 2016, Professor Popp is given the Bavarian Order of Merit by the former Governor of Bavaria, Horst Seehofer. The advisory board for the order of merit, composed of the President of the German State Parliament and the Deputy Governor, justified the award by stating that Professor Dr Michael Popp was a highly deserving recipient based on his sustainable commercial commitments and his outstanding voluntary activities in relation to Bavaria as a business location and to its citizens.

Bionorica baut ein Werk in RusslandWith an official groundbreaking ceremony in July 2017, Bionorica marked the start of construction for a facility in Voronezh, Russia. "Russia is our largest international market and we enjoy a close 20-year friendship with the people here," said Professor Michael A. Popp, CEO and proprietor of Bionorica SE, in Voronezh. By having its own plant in Russia, Bionorica aims, among other things, to expand its capacities and achieve shorter delivery times and distances. There will also be customs and transport cost benefits.

Bionorica is growing and so at the end of 2017 the 1,000 employee in Germany took up the work.

In April 2018 the Leon Heart Foundation was renamed to “Natureheart Foundation for Kids“. The new name highlights an additional aspect in the foundation's center: to foster the competence of understanding and respecting nature.

In May 2019, Bionorica SE has sold its cannabis business to Canopy Growth Corporation, a world-leading cannabis and hemp company based in Smiths Falls, Canada.

Effective: May 2019