I was born in the first years of the Republic as the “lucky” child of one of the wealthiest Turkish families in İzmir, where most of the population was Levantines, in 1925. In those years, the Republic, in contrast to today’s inertia, used to look at the future with confidence, and it was still endeavoring to get Turkey to the level of contemporary civilization. In accordance with this purpose, I enrolled in İstanbul Pharmacy Department in 1942. I was one of the students whom the teachers love the most throughout my school life. I attempted to do the best in whatever I did in my life. When I was at my third year in university, a new tax, zeroing the financial power of my family under the name of “wealth tax” came about. The amount of tax, my family had to pay was exactly 900 thousand Turkish liras. Most people who know what 900 thousand Turkish liras mean for that day are not even alive today. With this tax, depressive days began for Şanlı Family. I was hardly able to complete the last year of my university life; in fact, I even caught pneumonia due to malnourishment.
After I graduated from school, in order to complete my main mission for choosing Pharmacy Department, and to have the necessary knowledge to be able to establish a production facility in Turkey, I first went to France and to Switzerland. I acquired most of my knowledge in Zurich Canton. Important medicines which are needed by all hospitals and sanitariums were produced in Zurich Canton in galenic forms. That place was an important blessing for me as there was no machine during our education in university and we haven’t got any information about how to produce medicines.
In 1948, when I was only 23 years old, I came back to İzmir and rolled my sleeves up to establish my own business. My only goal in those days was to produce medicine for the Republic of Turkey and to save my country from being foreign-dependent in time.
I got my first lesson in trade from my father. My father rented his own property for 67 liras 50 kurus. As there was no pharmacist, chemist or doctor in our family for 4 generations that I know, I have to be the one to do it myself. I came into operation as Şanlı Laboratory in İzmir on 10th June, 1948. In this period, it was my brother, Mustafa Şanlı, who just completed his education in medicine who supported me the most. He also came into power with me by rolling up his sleeves as soon as he became a doctor. We endeavored to commence medicine production in Turkey with four arms as two brothers. In those days, there was not even a factory manufacturing plastic tubes or a printing house manufacturing boxes for medicine. We started selling 400.000 U penicillin by filling them as serum physiologic in ampules we imported from Hungary.
We would spend most of our days in İstanbul to procure packaging materials, and the other days in Ankara to get licenses. Both Mustafa and I worked heartily both during the day and the night. We imported the first rotary tablet machine with 16 punch. During the years where foreign capital began to come to Turkey, in other words, when multinational medicine companies began to make the biggest investments, we decided to produce medical plaster and porous plaster for rheumatism in order not to be hard up. With this idea, we sent letters to 842 companies by gathering the addresses of factories manufacturing plaster in the world. We received responses only from 18 to 20 companies for these letters and began to visit them. In the end, we had a deal with one company. We started the manufacturing by receiving supports from this company for both machinery supply and formula. We developed the porous plaster gradually and we understood how a right decision we took by starting to produce porous plaster when our porous plaster became the most wanted plaster in Turkey.
As the market share we obtained in porous plaster grew, we decided to give up the production of medicine which has almost become the monopoly of multinational companies and place importance on porous plaster group.
Today, as we showed courage by establishing a production facility outside İstanbul, with our persevering hard work and confident steps, we have overcome all the obstacles and proved ourselves and turned into a production facility, which has become a hallmark in Turkish market.
Pharm. Seyit Şanlı (1925-2011)
With Respect and Longing…