How Allergan went from a tiny but beloved Southern California eye care company to a dealmaking machine to falling out of grace with investors (AGN)

Allergan CEO Brent Saunders

It’s been a rocky year for Allergan, the pharmaceutical company best known for making Botox. 

Investors have been unhappy with Allergan’s stock performance over the last year, and some have expressed interest in seeing the pharma company explore splitting up. On Wednesday, Allergan announced it plans to sell its women’s health and infectious disease businesses. The news sent Allergan’s stock down 2%, suggesting the move didn’t go as far as some would like. 

“For a senior leadership team that has presided over significant value destruction due in no small part to a series of poorly thought out transactions and unforced errors, entrusting the same leadership team with the task of driving value recovery via further M&A is hardly confidence inspiring in our view, to say nothing of the message it sends to shareholders regarding accountability (or more notably lack thereof),” Piper Jaffray analyst David Amsellem wrote in a note on Wednesday.

Here’s how the company went from its start as a small but beloved company out of Southern California in the 1950s to where it is today. 

Allergan was founded in 1948 by pharmacist Gavin S. Herbert, shown below on the left with Dr. Parmis Khatibi, a specialist at the University of California, Irvine Medical Center in 2014.

Along with chemist Stanley Bly, Herbert created the company’s first drug, an anti-allergy nose drop that used the antihistamine neoantergan. They marketed the drug under the name Allergan.

The eye drops launched Allergan into the eye care field. Allergan Pharmaceuticals Inc. officially became a company in 1950, and the company focused on eye products before going public in 1970.

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