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Harold Snyder (April 25, 1922 – December 18, 2008) was an American businessperson who started Biocraft Laboratories, one of the earliest manufacturers of generic drugs.

Harold Snyder
BornApril 25, 1922
DiedDecember 18, 2008 (age 86)
NationalityUnited States
EducationB.A. New York University
M.A. Columbia University
Known forfounder of Biocraft Laboratories
Spouse(s)Beatrice Snyder
Tamar Snyder
ChildrenBeryl Snyder
Brian Snyder
Jay Snyder


Early life and educationEdit

Snyder was born to a Jewish family[1] in Manhattan and attended Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn. He attended New York University for his undergraduate studies and was awarded a master's degree from Columbia University on 1950, majoring in natural science.[2]

Biocraft LaboratoriesEdit

He founded Biocraft Laboratories in Fair Lawn, New Jersey in 1964 together with his wife Beatrice, who headed the company's financial operations and developed its inventory system.[3] The firm produced antibiotics, such as penicillin and tetracycline, waiting for the expiration of patents on brand-name medications and then producing generic equivalents at lower prices.[2] Biocraft was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1985, with Snyder stating that it was the first generic drug manufacturer to be listed on the Big Board.[3]

The Snyders played a major role in establishing the standards and approval process with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for generic pharmaceuticals.[2] In 1991, Snyder expressed his concerns regarding FDA approval processes that had multiple chemists raising issues regarding generic versions of brand-name drugs.[4]

The firm was able to produce generic versions in 1981 of Co-trimoxazole, which had been manufactured and sold under the brand names Bactrim and Septra in 1981, with the generics sold for half the price of the brand-name equivalents. Biocraft was able to use documentation previously prepared by Hoffmann–La Roche and Burroughs Wellcome, the original makers of the two drugs, to cut the cost of creating the processes needed to manufacture generic versions and obtain FDA approval. Burroughs Wellcome filed an appeal of the decision to allow approval of the Biocraft generic versions, with Snyder arguing that "Every day they can keep the generics off the market means more money in their pockets".[5]

The firm opened a plant in Missouri in the 1980s that produced the active ingredients for the company's medications, and shipped those products to the Biocraft facilities in New Jersey for assembly and distribution.[2]


After a pipe burst at the company's Waldwick, New Jersey facilities, 33,000 gallons of chemicals contaminated the soil and groundwater at the site. Together with his employees, Snyder developed a technique to pump magnesium, nitrogen and other nutrients into the soil to help bacteria naturally present underground to digest the pollutants – which included benzene, methylene chloride, toluene and xylene – with carbon dioxide and water as the main byproducts, using a small pump house, two tanks and a network of pipes under the ground to implement the process.[2] In the early 1980s, Snyder reported that the process had been used to successfully treat a soil sample from the Lipari landfill in Bridgeport, New Jersey, one of the state's most contaminated sites, and had been unofficially approved by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection for use at the Biocraft spill. Snyder estimated that the new method had purified five million gallons of contaminated water in three years at a cost of $80,000 compared to more than $2 million for traditional methods which would have taken years more to complete.[6] Snyder patented the process in 1983, but did not develop the method on a commercial basis. Other bioremediation systems that use plants and microorganisms to clean up contaminants have been widely used since.[2]

Teva PharmaceuticalEdit

With annual sales of $150 million at the time, Biocraft was taken over by Teva Pharmaceutical Industries in 1996 in exchange for stock.[3] Snyder was named a director at Teva. In 1997, he established HBJ Investments to invest in medical technology and pharmaceutical companies.[2]


A resident of Manhattan and Westhampton, New York, Snyder died at age 86 on December 18, 2008 in Manhattan due to respiratory failure.[2] His first wife, Beatrice, died in 1998, when they had been living in Cliffside Park, New Jersey.[3] Snyder was survived by his second wife, Tamar Hirschl, three children, Beryl, Brian and Jay and six grandchildren.[2][7]


  1. ^ Jewish Telegraphic Agency: "Big Jewish Names on Clinton Foundation List" December 19, 2008
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Pearce, Jeremy. "Harold Snyder, Generic Drug Pioneer, Is Dead at 86", The New York Times, January 13, 2009. Accessed January 14, 2009.
  3. ^ a b c d Staff. "Beatrice Snyder, 74, Generic-Drug Official", The New York Times, June 30, 1998. Accessed January 14, 2009.
  4. ^ Freudenheim, Milt. "Business and Health; On Approving Generic Drugs", The New York Times, July 9, 1991. Accessed January 14, 2009.
  5. ^ Hayes, Thomas C. "BIG DRUG CONCERNS FIGHT F.D.A.", The New York Times, May 9, 1981. Accessed January 14, 2009.
  6. ^ Carney, Leo H. "INVENTOR SAYS HE'S IGNORED", The New York Times, November 6, 1983. Accessed January 14, 2009.
  7. ^ American Friends of Rabin Medical Center Fall 2009