Childhood & Early Years
Phillip Frost was born in 1936 into a Jewish family residing in South Philadelphia. His father owned a shoe store in the Italian Market and the family lived in a quarter on top of it. Phillips had two brothers who were much older than him.
Not much is known about Phillip’s school days. However, it is known that at the age of thirteen, he took up a job in a local hardware shop, may be to earn some pocket money.
After coming out of school, Phillip went to France and enrolled at the University of Paris, popularly known as Sorbonne. He studied there from 1955 to 1956.
Phillips did not finish his courses there but came back home to enroll at the University of Pennsylvania. From there, he graduated in 1957 with a major in French literature.
While working for his BA degree in Pennsylvania Phillip had to see a dermatologist in connection with a wart that had appeared on his elbow. The dermatologist inspired Phillip to think about dermatology as a career option. Only problem was that he did not have money to bear the course fee and to sustain himself. However, the problem was solved when he won a full scholarship for Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. He earned his MD in 1961 and then undertook research work under National Institute of Health in Maryland.
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Phillip Frost started his career as a Lieutenant Commander under U.S. Public Health Service at the National Cancer Institute. He worked there from 1963 to 1965.
In 1966, Dr. Frost joined School of Medicine, University of Miami as a Professor of Dermatology and worked in that capacity until 1972. While serving there in 1971, Frost invented a disposable biopsy device that could be used both at indoor and outdoor locations. Technically speaking, it was a minor invention that had little commercial value. However, Frost was able to sell it and thus had his first taste of commercial success.
Soon he found his job at University Miami to be too constrictive. In 1972, he joined Mt. Sinai Medical Center at Greater Miami as the Chairman of the Department of Dermatology. He served in that capacity until 1990.
In fact, 1972 was a landmark year in Frost’s career. Although he was an efficient doctor the businessman in him began to raise its head now and on. Fortunately, he came to know about a product that cleaned teeth by using ultrasound technology and bought it. He then teamed up with Michael Jaharis to buy out a struggling pharmaceutical company called Key Pharmaceuticals by exchanging stock. There was no monetary transaction. Since Jaharis had the administrative experience, he became the Chief Executive and Frost served as the Chairman of the Board of Directors. He, however, continued to serve as a practicing dermatologist at Mt. Sinai Medical Center.
Initially they had to face a lot of problems, both financial and pharmaceutical. However, things began to improve drastically once Theo Dor, a time-release capsule to treat asthma was introduced in the market. Very soon, Key Pharmaceuticals became a profit making company. In 1986, the company was acquired by Schering-Plough at a price of $600 million; Phillip got $100 million out of it.
In 1987, Phillip Frost created IVAX Corporation by merging three existing pharmaceutical companies and began to develop new products. Here he served as the Chief Executive Officer as well as the Chairman of the Board of Directors.
Frost finally stopped acting as a practicing dermatologist in 1990 and went into expanding his business. IVAX soon became a major player in Lain America, Central and Eastern Europe.
In January 2006, IVAX was acquired by Israel-based Teva Pharmaceuticals for a sum of $ 7.4 billion. Frost’s share of profit was $ 1.1 billion. In addition, he continued to serve as Vice Chairman of Teva, even after acquisition. Later in 2010, he was made the Chairman of the Board and re-elected to the same post in 2012.
Phillip Frost also invested in Protalix BioTherapeutics. He was also on its board of directors; but resigned from the post in 2007.
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in March 2007, Frost became the CEO and Chairman of OPKO Health, a pharmaceutical company he created by merging a number of smaller companies. He continues to hold this position even today.
In addition, Phillip Frost is on the board of different other companies such as Ladenburg Thalmann Financial Services, PROLOR Biotech, Inc., Castle Brands, Continucare Corporation, Cocrystal Pharma etc.
In 2011 Frost became the largest shareholder in the Coconut Grove Bank, the oldest bank in South Florida. He also owns 19% of ChromaDex. In addition, he has made considerable investments in MusclePharm MSLP, Drone Aviation Holding Corp., Sevion Therapeutics etc.
Turning a near bankrupt company like Key Pharmaceuticals into profitable organization is the first major achievement for Frost. Later he created IVAX Corporation and turned it into a profit making venture. When Teva Pharmaceuticals acquired IVAX, he first became its Vice Chairman and later was named the Chairman of the company.
OPKO Health is another feather in his cap. It was created by the merger of smaller companies like Acuity Pharmaceuticals Inc., Froptix Corporation and eXegenics Inc. OPKO has recently acquired Bio Reference Laboratories and is undertaking genetic researches.
The Frost Family supports scholarships for advanced study at the University of Oxford in subjects like science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. However, it is open only students from Florida and Israel.
In 2003, Phillip Frost donated $33 million to the School of Music in the University of Miami. The school was renamed Phillip and Patricia Frost School of Music in recognition of such benevolence.
The family donated $2 million to the Art Museum of the Florida International University. It has since been renamed as Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum.
Phillip Frost donated $35 million towards the construction of a new science museum building at Bicentennial Park. It will be named the Patricia & Phillip Frost Science Museum. He also donated $10 million extra to develop the planetarium at the Science Museum. It is to be named Frost Planetarium.
Phillip Frost serves as an honorary member of the board in several welfare organizations and institutions such as University of Miami, Mount Sinai Medical Center, Scripps Research Institute, Miami Jewish Home for the Aged, Temple Emanu-El and etc.
The Frost family has signed a pledge to give away at least half of their fortune. The pledge has been initiated by Bill Gate and Warren Buffet. In an interview, Phillip had said that he plans to focus on education, both at domestic and international level.