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As a pharmacist, he had plenty of medications to soothe his son's hacking cough. But there was a rub: none offered croup therapy specifically for infants. So he mixed his own salve, adding an untried, minty Japanese drug called menthol. When the ointment worked, he sold his Greensboro, N.C., drugstore and started a company. Total sales were a sickly $433 during 1905, his first year. It wasn't until the Spanish influenza epidemic of 1918 that Lunsford Richardson's ointment caught on. Vicks VapoRub brought in $1 million in sales in 1918. And Richardson-Vicks Inc. was on its way to becoming a billion-dollar drug company.

Last updated: Jul 1, 1986




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