Teva drug company founder Eli Hurvitz dies


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Eli Hurvitz, who built the Teva Pharmaceutical Industries after beginning his career washing lab equipment at a small drug company, has died.

Hurvitz died in Israel Monday at the age of 79. He reportedly had cancer.

The Jerusalem native, a veteran of the 1948 War of Independence, washed test tubes at Assia, a small pharmaceutical company owned by his father-in-law, while pursuing a degree in economics at Hebrew University.

As managing director of Assia, Hurvitz merged the company with two smaller companies, taking the name of one of them, Teva, which means nature in Hebrew. The company is based in Petach Tikvah.

He served as president and CEO of the company until he stepped down in March 2010 due to illness.

Hurvitz received the Israel Prize in 2002 for lifetime achievement. He served as chairman of Bank Leumi, president of the Manufacturers Association of Israel and chairman of the Israel Democracy Institute, a think tank based in Jerusalem.

"Eli Hurvitz was one of the great industrialists that established the State of Israel," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement. "He was noble, a complete patriot and very dedicated to developing the Israeli economy and society.

"I learned much from him; I admired his wisdom and his achievements. I loved his warm personality. Israeli initiatives and the Israeli spirit had no better ambassador. I will miss this wonderful man."

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