Pavlos Giannakopoulos was born in Athens on 20 August 1929. He was originally from Sellasia, a village in Laconia, Greece. A true pioneer, a gifted and creative person, he left his mark in the pharmaceutical industry and in sports.
Pavlos Giannakopoulos’s seamless contribution to the Greek society and economy significantly encouraged the growth and establishment of Greek pharmaceutical production as a global force. He earned the nickname “father of the Greek pharmaceutical industry”, since he played a leading part in the early stages of local pharmaceutical production, making history: the pharmacy his father started in 1924 on Piraeus Street led to the creation of the biggest Greek pharmaceutical company, VIANEX.
He familiarised himself with pharmaceutical products ever since he was a little boy, as he assisted his father, Dimitrios Giannakopoulos, in the pharmacy he established in 1924 on Piraeus Street. However, Pavlos Giannakopoulos chose to study Economics over Pharmacy. He graduated from the Athens University of Economics and Business.
He believed that "To reach the top, you need to try. You need vision, dedication, and faith”. Embracing that principle, he took the first steps that eventually led him to reach the top of the Greek pharmaceutical industry.
The first significant milestone was 1960, when he established the company PHARMAGIAN. Pavlos Giannakopoulos was the first to introduce products from international pharmaceutical companies to the Greek market, giving Greek patients access to new treatments. In 1971, FARMAGIAN became a limited company and was renamed VIANEX S.A. With president and founder Pavlos Giannakopoulos at the helm, VIANEX grew rapidly, striking deals with major pharmaceutical companies, which entrusted VIANEX to produce and distribute their products in Greece.
From 1977 until 1999, VIANEX created four production facilities, each one specialising in a different type of pharmaceutical products, while the distribution centre for end products was established at the company’s headquarters. Thus, the company was able to expand its portfolio to include a wide range of pharmaceutical products.
Pavlos Giannakopoulos reached the top of Greek pharmaceutical production, but he never rested on his laurels.
In 1995, he made an insightful move by creating VIAN S.A., a company within the VIANEX Group oriented towards the pharmacy market. The remarkable growth of over-the-counter (OTC) pharmaceutical and parapharmaceutical products in the following years proved him right. He was distinguished for respecting the distinct roles of all parties involved in the pharmaceutical supply chain and also for continuously supporting Greek pharmacies.
By establishing ELDRUG S.A. in 2006, Pavlos Giannakopoulos highlighted his trust in Greek researchers. In 2011, the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF approved VIANEX as a supplier.
For many years, Pavlos Giannakopoulos was president of the Association of Pharmaceutical Products and Specialities Representatives, president of the Athens Association of Commercial Agents, and vice-president of the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI). During his long career, he received numerous awards by Greek and international financial, business, and scientific organisations. In April 2017, he received a lifetime achievement award by the Pharmaceutical Association of Athens for his contribution to the Greek pharmaceutical sector. That was the last award the “father of the Greek pharmaceutical industry” received in his life.
Pavlos Giannakopoulos also honoured Greek sports with his principles and sportsmanship. The historic leader of Panathinaikos B.C. managed to change the club’s course and transform it into the most successful basketball team of the past 25 years.
He was a fan of Panathinaikos ever since he was little, but he officially became involved with the club in 1971. At the age of 42, inspired by the 1971 European Cup Final at Wembley Stadium, he decided to be integrated in the club’s management. In 1976, he became general manager and 1st vice-president and also served as secretary-general.
From 1987 until 1997, he managed the amateur departments and at the same time he started developing the basketball team alongside his brothers, Thanassis and Kostas. As the president of Panathinaikos, Pavlos Giannakopoulos attracted the best Greek and international basketball players to the team. During his tenure, the team won dozens of local and European titles, creating an admirable trophy collection like no other in Europe and probably in the whole world.
The love for his family always had a special place in his heart. He met Despoina Giannakopoulou in the early 70s and they spent an entire lifetime together.
His wife was his greatest source of support. On 22 June 1974, Despoina Giannakopoulou gave birth to their only son, Dimitris Giannakopoulos. Pavlos passed on to Dimitris his passion about family, work, the country, and social contribution. Dimitris Giannakopoulos rewarded his father in the best possible way, by giving him two grandchildren, Despoina and Pavlos. As a grandfather, Pavlos Giannakopoulos continued to instil his principles to his grandchildren, as he did with his son, Dimitris.
As a truly self-made man, Pavlos Giannakopoulos greatly focused on social awareness. He faced many difficulties early in his life, thus he never ceased to help those in need until his passing, on 10 June 2018.
His social contribution was always discreet, selfless, and unremitting. The "Pavlos D. Giannakopoulos Foundation" pledges to continue his legacy, embracing his values and honouring his memory, "to reward long-standing efforts across generations".