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Big Thoughts are Free

The Authorized Biography of Milan Panic

Mark Axelrod

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Chapter 7. The Rise of ICN


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The $200 Miracle: 1950s–1960s

Panić had already started the precursor to ICN in his garage as early as 1958. While some people might have been working on cars in their garage, Panić, in his spare time, was making 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), a naturally occurring amino acid and chemical precursor as well as a metabolic intermediate in the biosynthesis of the neurotransmitters serotonin and melatonin from tryptophan, which is often used as an anti-depressant (“5-Hydroxytryptophan,” n.d.). Not the sort of thing one might usually be producing in a garage.

Which brings us to December 7, 1959, a day with significant meaning for Panić, as it was the day that with only $200 of his own money (two $100-bills are framed in his Pasadena study as a reminder of how it all started) he began what would be the foundation for the multibillion dollar ICN (a.k.a. International Chemical and Nuclear Corporation). To put that in 2013 terms, the capital with which Panić started would have amounted to approximately $1,554, which, even by present-day standards, would be an extraordinarily paltry sum of money to embark on an entrepreneurial enterprise of the magnitude he envisioned. And to embark on such a financial journey, one would need more than $200, a vision, and a prayer. One would need the expertise of people who were financially savvy as well as scientifically engaged. Panić was ← 85 | 86 → smart enough to...

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