Abildgaard took over the company in 1939 after the company’s founder, Abildgaard’s father-in-law, pharmacist August Kongsted, passed away.
Kongsted had established LEO Pharma in his Copenhagen pharmacy – the Lion Pharmacy – in 1908. Using the latest advances in industrial processes, he set up pharmaceutical production in the basement of his shop.
Apart from heading his own venture, Kongsted also helped set up Nordisk Insulinlaboratorium (later to evolve into Novo Nordisk).
During Abildgaard’s ownership and management, LEO Pharma grew into an international, expansive and innovative organisation with sales and production around the world.
In the 1970s, Abildgaard announced plans to secure the continuation of his life’s work through the creation of a foundation. He intended to have LEO Pharma stay independent and able to further strengthen its position as a successful, international pharmaceutical company.