A history of… Novartis

Novartis is one of the world’s top pharmaceutical companies – but it’s also one of the newest. Find out how in our latest ‘History of’ article…

You’ll notice that many of the pharma companies I’ve looked at throughout this series have histories spanning one or two centuries. However, this month’s “History of” looks into one of the world’s top pharmaceutical companies that has only been around for 17 years.

“How can this be?” I hear you ask.

Well the Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis was only established in 1996. But it was created through the merger of two top Swiss companies, Ciba-Geigy and Sandoz Laboratories, in what some say has been the “most successful pharma merger”.

In this article, we’ll look at the roots of both Ciba-Geigy and Sandoz and their histories (which technically span over 250 years) and then see how Novartis has come along since the 90s.

The very beginning: 1758 – 1917

As you can probably tell from the name, Ciba-Geigy was also formed through the merger of two companies. And as you’re about to notice, not only were the pharmaceutical products they created over the years similar, but Ciba, Geigy and Sandoz’s histories intertwined long before their final merger in 1996…


In 1758, Johann Rudolf Geigy-Gemuseus began trading in “materials, chemicals, dyes and drugs of all kinds” in Basel, Switzerland.


Meanwhile in Basel, in 1859, Alexander Clavel took up the production of fuchsine in a silk dyeing factory, before selling the factory to Bindschedler & Busch in 1873. Three years later, the company has a commercial presence in Germany, France, England, Italy, Russia and the US. By 1884, Bindschedler & Busch had transformed into a joint-stock company and was renamed Gessellschaft fur Chemische Industrie Basel or “Ciba” for short.

See on www.pharmaphorum.com

From Pharmaceutical Industry digital vision


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