Bristol-Myers Squibb is one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, recording sales of nearly $16 billion in 2014. However, the company has faced litigation over a number of products, including Byetta and Abilify.
Today’s Bristol-Myers Squibb actually originated with two companies founded in the 1800s. In 1858, a U.S. Navy doctor named Edward Robinson Squibb started a pharmaceutical laboratory in Brooklyn, New York dubbed E.R. Squibb, M.D. Squibb became a major source of medicine for the Union Army during the Civil War, and was known for the invention of the “Squibb pannier,” a compact medical kit that doctors could use on the battlefield.
The second half of the company was founded by William McLaren Bristol and John Ripley Myer when they invested $5,000 in a struggling entity called the Clinton Pharmaceutical Company. Within a decade, the company was marketing “Sal Hepatica,” a national best-selling mineral laxative. In 1888, Clinton Pharmaceuticals was redubbed Bristol, Myers. Eventually, a hyphen would come to replace the comma: Bristol-Myers.
During World War II, Squibb and Bristol-Myers became leading suppliers of penicillin. By 1943, Squibb operated the largest penicillin production plant in the world in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Following the war, both companies expanded their research and production of antibiotics.
The two companies merged in 1989, creating what was then the world’s second largest pharmaceutical company, Bristol-Myers Squibb. In 2001, the company spun off Zimmer Holding, Inc., a manufacturer of medical devices. In 2012, Bristol-Myers Squibb and AstraZeneca acquired Amylin Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturer of the Type 2 diabetes drug, Byetta.
Over the years, a number of products marketed by Bristol-Myers Squibb have been the subject of controversy and litigation:
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