A Brief History of Bristol-Myers
In 1887 William McLaren Bristol and John Ripley Myers decided to sink $5,000 into a failing drug manufacturing firm called the Clinton Pharmaceutical Company, located in Clinton, New York. The company was officially incorporated on December 13, 1887, with William Bristol as president and John Myers as vice president.
The partners worked hard to expand the business, but at first it was an uphill struggle. From the start, however, they had two rules: insist on high quality and maintain the firm's good financial standing at all costs.
In May 1898 came a new name: Bristol, Myers Company (a hyphen would replace the comma after Myers's death in 1899, when the company became a corporation). Not until 1900 did Bristol-Myers break through into the black -- where it has remained ever since.
The company's first nationally recognized product was termed a poor man's spa by chief chemist J. Leroy Webber: a laxative mineral salt that, when dissolved in water, reproduced the taste and effects of the natural mineral waters of Bohemia. Christened Sal Hepatica, the new product sold modestly for eight years. Then, from 1903 to 1905, sales suddenly mushroomed tenfold. Another runaway success of this era was Ipana toothpaste, the first toothpaste to include a disinfectant in its formula and thus protect against the effects of bleeding gums. The demand for Sal Hepatica and Ipana transformed Bristol-Myers from a regional into a national company and then an international one.
In 1924, gross profits topped $1 million for the first time in Bristol-Myers’ history. The company's products were now sold in 26 countries. At this point, the shares held by John Myers's heirs became available for sale, triggering a series of moves that in 1929 turned Bristol-Myers into a publicly held company, listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
The postwar depression prompted Bristol-Myers to jettison its pharmaceutical business and devote itself entirely to its specialties: Sal Hepatica and Ipana, its two big winners, and a dozen or so assorted toiletries, antiseptics and cough syrups. Company headquarters were established in Manhattan. And having shifted squarely into the consumer products arena, Bristol-Myers began advertising its products directly to the public.
With the acquisition in 1943 of Cheplin Laboratories -- a Syracuse, New York manufacturer of acidophilus milk -- Bristol-Myers again became a producer of pharmaceutical products. Cheplin, which had expertise in fermentation techniques, became a key supplier to the U.S. War Production Board's crash program to mass-produce penicillin for the Allied armed forces.
By the end of the war, it was clear that penicillin and other antibiotics represented an immense opportunity for Bristol-Myers. Cheplin was renamed Bristol Laboratories, and Frederic N. Schwartz was put in charge of it.
In 1957 Schwartz was appointed president and chief executive officer of Bristol-Myers when Henry Bristol, approaching 70, chose to shed some of his former responsibilities and become chairman of the board.
Reviewing the company's situation and prospects, Schwartz and then-treasurer Gavin K. MacBain -- later Schwartz's successor as CEO -- decided that Bristol-Myers should embark on a program of acquiring well-managed smaller companies. The two executives’ first major move in that direction was to acquire Clairol, a company founded by the husband-and-wife team of Lawrence M. Gelb and Joan Clair, which had turned haircoloring from a difficult-to-use specialty item into a highly successful mainstream consumer product. With Clairol also came the executive who in 1972 was to succeed MacBain as CEO of Bristol-Myers Company: Richard L. Gelb, elder son of Clairol's founders. In 1976 Richard Gelb was elected chairman of the board.
Within a dozen or so years after Clairol joined the company, a number of other acquisitions followed, including those of Drackett, Mead Johnson, Zimmer and Westwood.
In 1986 the company opened a state-of-the-art research complex in Wallingford, Connecticut, designed to house more than 800 scientists and support staff. (In 1995, this facility would be renamed the Richard L. Gelb Center for Pharmaceutical Research and Development.)
In 1856 Edward Robinson Squibb founded a pharmaceutical company in Brooklyn, New York, dedicated to the production of consistently pure medicines.
In 1895 Squibb passed most of the responsibility for managing the firm to his sons, Charles and Edward. The company became known as E.R. Squibb & Sons.
In 1905 the Squibb sons sold the company to Lowell M. Palmer and Theodore Weicker, and the company became incorporated. That same year, land was purchased at New Brunswick, New Jersey, for establishment of an ether production plant.
In 1906, six years after Edward Squibb's death, Congress passed the Pure Food and Drugs Act. The law still stands as the triumph of his lifelong crusade for safe, reliable pharmaceutical products.
Around the same time, the prototype of the Squibb logo was designed. The logo represented product uniformity, purity, efficacy and reliability based on research.
In 1921 the company coined its slogan: "The priceless ingredient in every product is the honor and integrity of its maker."
In 1938 the Squibb Institute for Medical Research was established.
In 1944 Squibb opened the largest penicillin production plant in the world; in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
In 1946 Squibb International was incorporated and the company expanded into South America and Europe while building manufacturing facilities in Mexico, Italy and Argentina.
In 1971 Squibb Corporation established worldwide headquarters and expanded facilities for the Squibb Institute in Princeton, New Jersey.
In 1975 Squibb researchers Miguel A. Ondetti, Bernard Rubin and David W. Cushman created CapotenR (captopril) -- the first in a new class of antihypertensive agents called ACE inhibitors. Capoten was an important new medical discovery for the treatment of patients with high blood pressure. In 1999, Cushman and Ondetti would be honored further with the prestigious Lasker Award.
In 1989 Bristol-Myers merged with Squibb, creating a global leader in the health care industry. The merger created what was then the world's second-largest pharmaceutical enterprise.
In 1990 the Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceutical Research Institute was established with headquarters in Princeton, New Jersey, and research facilities in Wallingford, Connecticut, and other sites around the world.
In 1991, the company received U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval in the U.S. for Videx® (didanosine) also known as ddI, making it the second medicine available for treating HIV infection (the other being AZT). Other approvals that year included an antibiotic, Cefzil® (cefprozil); two cardiovascular agents, Pravachol® (pravastatin sodium) Tablets and Monopril® (fosinopril sodium) Tablets; and a central nervous system drug, Stadol NS® (butorphanol tartrate) C-IV.
In that same year, the company signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with the National Cancer Institute to research and develop a new compound for treating certain types of cancer. This compound, TAXOL® (paclitaxel) Injection, immediately was established as the company's top research priority. Bristol-Myers Squibb invested hundreds of millions of dollars to supply TAXOL in sufficient quantities for clinical trials, to prepare data for regulatory submission and to develop alternative sources of TAXOL (which originally was derived from the bark of an endangered tree, the Pacific Yew). TAXOL launched in 1993 and quickly became one of the world'smost widely used cancer treatments.
In 1994, Charles A. Heimbold, Jr. was elected chief executive officer. Also in 1994, the company completed its acquisition of UPSA, a leading maker of pharmaceutical and consumer medicines, based in France. It acquired Glucophage® (metformin hydrochloride tablets), a new oral medication for type 2 diabetes, from Lipha. And it received FDA approval of Zerit® (stavudine), an HIV medication, and Serzone® (nefazodone hydrochloride), an antidepressant.
In May 1995 the board of directors conferred the title of chairman emeritus on Richard L. Gelb for his long and distinguished career. Mr. Heimbold became chairman as well as CEO. By the end of that year, the company had over 60 product lines with $50 million or more in annual sales worldwide.
Beginning in 1995, Pravachol® (pravastatin sodium) was granted expanded usage from the FDA for reducing risk of heart attack or death in patients with elevated cholesterol or chronic heart disease. And Bristol-Myers Squibb acquired full ownership of Oncology Therapeutics Network, a distributor of cancer medicines, products and services to office-based oncologists.
In 1997, the company intensified its investment in pharmaceutical research and development, opening a new, 433-acre research campus in Hopewell, New Jersey. And two important new medicines co-developed with Sanofi-Sythelabo received approvals: Avapro® (irbesartan), an anti-hypertensive, and Plavix® (clopidogrel bisulfate), an anti-platelet agent.
At the beginning of 1998, the FDA granted clearance to market ExcedrinR Migraine for the relief of migraine headache pain and associated symptoms. Excedrin Migraine became the first migraine headache medication available to consumers without a prescription.
In December of that same year, Bristol-Myers Squibb received the National Medal of Technology -- America's highest honor for technological innovation -- "for extending and enhancing human life through innovative pharmaceutical research and development, and for redefining the science of clinical study through groundbreaking and hugely complex clinical trials that are recognized models in the industry."
In 1999, Bristol-Myers Squibb announced SECURE THE FUTURETM, a $100 million commitment to advance HIV/AIDS research and community outreach programs in five southern African countries: South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland. SECURE THE FUTURE grants are funding a laboratory for local HIV monitoring and research; an HIV nursing curriculum; physicians’ exchange programs between Africa and the U.S.; large-scale studies of the feasibility and effectiveness of antiretroviral therapy in Africa for both prevention and treatment; a children'sclinical center of excellence in Botswana; and many community-driven initiatives such as orphan care, home care, counseling and other services.
And in 2000, Bristol-Myers Squibb, together with four other pharmaceutical companies and international agencies, joined the UNAIDS Drug ACCESS Initiative. The ACCESS program aims to make antiretroviral medicines and therapies to treat opportunistic infections more widely available in African countries that have developed a coherent national AIDS strategy. As part of the program, the company offered to lower the prices of HIV/AIDS medicines in those countries by 90 percent.
More recently, Bristol-Myers Squibb took its access efforts a step further, offering HIV/AIDS drugs below cost in Africa and committing an additional $15 million for extending SECURE THE FUTURE to four Western African countries -- Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Mali and Senegal. The company is also ensuring that its patents do not prevent inexpensive HIV/AIDS therapy in Africa. The patent for Zerit, rights to which are owned by Yale University and Bristol-Myers Squibb, is now available at no cost to treat AIDS in southern Africa.
In September 2000, Bristol-Myers Squibb announced a new strategy that includes a sharpened focus on medicines and an aggressive external development program. As part of this new strategy, the company announced its intention to divest its Clairol and Zimmer businesses.
In that year, the company launched Tequin® (gatifloxacin) Tablets and Injection, an advanced-generation quinolone antibiotic, and Glucovance® (glyburide and metformin HCI tablets), a single-pill combination of metformin and glyburide for type 2 diabetes. It also launched Glucophage® XR (metformin hydrochloride extended-release tablets), a once-daily formulation of Glucophage, which had become the most prescribed branded oral anti-diabetic in the U.S.
In February 2001, Bristol-Myers Squibb was chosen "America'sMost Admired Pharmaceutical Company" by FORTUNE Magazine.
In May 2001, Peter R. Dolan, a 13-year veteran of the company, succeeded Charles A. Heimbold, Jr., as chief executive officer. At around this same time, President George W. Bush announced his intention to nominate Mr. Heimbold to become the next United States ambassador to Sweden. Mr. Heimbold assumed his duties as ambassador on September 12, 2001. At that time, Peter Dolan became chairman of the Board of Directors; he retains his title of CEO.
Under Mr. Dolan'sleadership, the company announced in June 2001 that it had entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the DuPont Pharmaceuticals Company for $7.8 billion, an acquisition intended to further strengthen Bristol-Myers Squibb'smedicines business. In August 2001, the company completed the spin-off of the Zimmer orthopaedics business, and the DuPont transaction officially closed as of October 1, 2001.
With the DuPont acquisition, Bristol-Myers Squibb added Sustiva® (efavirenz) Capsules to its HIV portfolio and also gained products such as Coumadin® (warfarin sodium tablets, USP) Crystalline, the U.S. leading prescribed anti-coagulant and Cardiolite® (Kit for the preparation of Technetium Tc99m Sestamibi for Injection), a medical imaging agent.
In November 2002, the FDA approved AbilifyTM (aripiprazole) for the treatment of schizophrenia. It is jointly marketed in the U.S. by Bristol-Myers Squibb and Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc. Bristol-Myers Squibb and Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., are also collaborative partners in the development and commercialization of aripiprazole in major European and Latin American countries.
Today, Bristol-Myers Squibb is proud to be a global leader in the research and development of innovative lifesaving and life-enhancing treatments for cancer, HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases, cardiovascular diseases, pain, and other conditions.
And tomorrow? The best is yet to be.