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Block Drug

Block Drug Company was a pharmaceutical company based in Jersey City, New Jersey, United States, that specialized in dental care products. Its most popular products included Polident denture cleanser, Poli-Grip denture adhesive, Dentu-Creme denture toothpaste, Nytol sleeping pill, Tegrin medicated shampoo for psoriasis, Lava hand soaps (acquired from Procter & Gamble), Beano and Phazyme anti-gas products, Balmex diaper rash ointments, and Sensodyne desensitizing toothpaste.[1]

Block Drug Company
HeadquartersJersey City, New Jersey, United States
Key people
Alexander Block, Leonard Block, Michael P. Danziger
ProductsPolident, Poli-Grip, Dentu-Creme, Nytol, Tegrin, Lava Soap, Beano, Phazyme, Balmex, Sensodyne
Number of employees

GlaxoSmithKline purchased the company for $1.24 billion in 2001.[2][3]



The company was founded in 1907 by Alexander Block, a Russian immigrant who had a small drugstore on Fulton Street in Brooklyn, New York. He turned the company into a wholesaler in 1915, then became a drug manufacturer in 1925, acquiring a 50 percent interest in Wernet's Dental Manufacturing Company.[1]

Block Drug moved its headquarters to Jersey City, New Jersey in 1938.[4]

Although Alexander Block built the company largely through acquisitions, he developed the Polident brand internally during the 1930s.[5] In 1948, Block Drug rolled out the Ammi-i-Dent tooth powder, and in the early 1950s, the company developed Nytol.[6] After Alexander Block's death in 1953,[5] his son Leonard N. Block (1911–2005)[4] took over, eventually becoming the company's chairman.[5] The last major new product the company introduced was Tegrin, in 1964.[5]


  • 1971 – The company went public, trading on NASDAQ under the ticker symbol BLOCA and raising $5.2 million in its initial offering.[6] Two years later, another stock sale generated $23 million.[6] Later in the 1970s, Efferdent took over from Polident as the No. 1 brand in its space.[5]
  • 1972 – Block named as its president James Block, who was the grandson of Alexander Block and the nephew of Leonard N. Block.[5] In 1988, James became chairman as his uncle, Leonard N. Block became senior chairman.[6] At the same time, Leonard N. Block's son, Thomas, became the company's president.[6][7]
  • 1978 – Block Drug entered the feminine hygiene market, with the ultimately unsuccessful Gentle Spring brand.[8]
  • 1983 – The company acquired Passaic, New Jersey-based 2000 Flushes toilet bowl cleaner manufacturer Flushco.[6] In 1985, Block Drug acquired the X-14 line of hard surface cleaners from White Laboratories.[6] Block Drug later acquired Gold Bond in 1987.
  • 1990s – Sales began to fall as Block Drug's products began to age and face new competition, and the problem was exacerbated by a lack of new products.[6]
  • 1990 – Block Drug sold Gold Bond to Martin Himmel Inc..
  • 1992 – The company acquired Phazyme from Reed and Carnrick.
  • 1995 – Block Drug divested its U.S. Reed and Carnrick Pharmaceuticals Division to Schwarz Pharma KermersUrban and also purchased Reckitt and Colman's Carpet Fresh and Rug Fresh cleaning and deodorizing products.[7]
  • Late 1995 – The company acquired the Lava soap brand from Procter & Gamble.[7]
  • 1996 – Block Drug purchased the Baby's Own line of baby care products, and then acquired Beano antigas tablets in 1997.[7]
  • 1998 – A major restructuring took place but was not successful.[6] As part of that, the company divested Carpet Fresh, Rug Fresh, 2000 Flushes and X-14.[7] Lava was later sold to WD-40 the following year.
  • 2000 – Block Drug hired Goldman Sachs as an adviser to evaluate a potential sale.[9]
  • 2001 – At the time of its sale to Glaxo, Block Drug was reported to have $900 million in annual sales, operations in 100 countries and employed 3,000 people.[2]


Although Block Drug was a public company from 1971 until 2001, it operated much like a private, family-run firm, with the Block family holding all voting shares plus 54 percent of the non-voting stock. In addition, the company never held annual meetings or issued proxy statements.[6]


Leonard N. Block died in 2005 at age 93 after suffering for years from Alzheimer's disease.[4] Block's nephew John P. Roberts was the producer of the Woodstock Festival using money from his Block inheritance.


  1. ^ a b The Gale Group. International Directory of Company Histories, republished at "Block Drug Company, Inc.: Information from". Answers Corporation.
  2. ^ a b GlaxoSmithKline Completes the Purchase of Block Drug for $1.24 Billion Prnewswire (January 16, 2001)
  3. ^ Hall, John. "Briefing: Pharmaceuticals; Drug Company" The New York Times (October 15, 2000)
  4. ^ a b c Saxon, Wolfgang (2005-11-12). "Leonard Block, 93, Chief of Drug Company, Is Dead". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-04-26.
  5. ^ a b c d e f "New Chip at the Old Block?". Forbes. May 29, 1978. p. 48.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Goldblatt, Dan (September 7, 1994). "New Jersey's most private public company". Northern Business. p. 48.
  7. ^ a b c d e
  8. ^ "New Chip at the Old Block?". Chicago Sun-Times. May 29, 1978. p. 48.
  9. ^ Clark, Andrew (October 7, 2000). "SmithKline to swallow Sensodyne: Aquafresh maker lines up Dollars 1.2bn bid for privately owned toothpaste company Block Drug". The Guardian (London). p. 29.