History of Pfizer

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History of Pfizer is a subarticle of the main SourceWatch article Pfizer.

Overview & history

Pfizer began with a loan from Charles Pfizer to his son in 1849 in Brooklyn, NY. The company began as a chemical manufacturer, making iodine preparations and tartaric acid. They incorporated in 1900 as Charles Pfizer and Co., continuing to function primarily as a chemical company. In 1923, they discovered a method of producing citric acid by deep-vat fermentation of sugar. In 1942, the company was contacted by the Office of Scientific Research and Development to produce penicillin for the war. Pfizer’s sales exploded from $27 million in 1945 to $43 million in 1946. In 1950, they introduced their first major in-house drug product development, Terramycin. The company used (then unconventional) tactics promote the product. The success of these methods, which included giving physicians free samples and gifts, was rapidly copied throughout the industry.[1].

During the 1960’s, with the threat of price-controls looming, Pfizer followed the general trend of other drug companies to diversify. The company purchased Visine, Ben-Gay, Barbasol Shaving Cream, Coty Cosmetics and others. But by the late 1970s and early 1980s, this diversification had proven unsuccessful, so the company redirected its efforts back to health care. Recently, Pfizer has pursued a series of high-profile mergers. Companies like Warner-Lambert and Pharmacia that have helped propel it into its current position as the largest pharmaceutical company in the world. At the end of 2006, Pfizer sold its Consumer Health care business for $16.6 billion to Johnson & Johnson. While some analysts criticized the sale, it appeared consistent with their desire to focus exclusively on prescription products. [2]

Acquisition of Wyeth

Wyeth was founded in 1926 as American Home Products Corporation and headquartered in Madison, New Jersey.[3] Its three main branches were pharmaceuticals, which manufactured vaccines, hormone replacement (Premarin), anti-depressants and other drugs. The company's over the counter brands included Advil, Centrum, Robitussin and ChapStick. It's Fort Dodge Animal Health subsidiary manufactures products for livestock, horses and pets; including pharmaceuticals, vaccines, parasite control products and growth implants. [4]

In 2009, Pfizer acquired its rival Wyeth for 68 billion dollars.[5]


  1. Pfizer Success Story, Wall Street Journal, June 4, 1954, pg 8
  2. Andrew Ross Sorkin, Stephanie Saul Johnson & Johnson Is Close to Deal for Pfizer Unit, New York Times, June 2006
  3. Wyeth At A Glance, Wyeth, accessed February 2009
  4. Wyeth, Hoovers, accessed January 2009
  5. Company Description: Pfizer Inc, Hoovers, accessed December 2009