This article is about the chemical and pharmaceutical company. For other uses, see Bayer (disambiguation).
Bayer AG
Traded as FWB: BAYN
Industry Pharmaceuticals, chemicals
Founded 1 August 1863 (1863-08-01)[1]
Founder Friedrich Bayer, Johann Friedrich Weskott
Headquarters Leverkusen, Germany
Key people
Werner Baumann (CEO), Werner Wenning (Chairman of the supervisory board)
Products Veterinary drugs, diagnostic imaging, general and specialty medicines, women's health products, over-the-counter drugs, diabetes care, pesticides, plant biotechnology
Revenue Increase 46.324 billion (2015)[2]
Increase €6.250 billion (2015)[2]
Profit Increase €4.110 billion (2015)[2]
Total assets Increase €73.917 billion (end 2015)[3]
Total equity Increase €25.445 billion (end 2015)[3]
Number of employees
116,800 (FTE, 2015)[2]
Subsidiaries Bayer Corporation, Bayer Schering Pharma, Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals, Bayer CropScience

Bayer AG (/ˈbər/; German pronunciation: [ˈbaɪ̯ɐ]) is a German multinational chemical and pharmaceutical company founded in Barmen (today a part of Wuppertal), Germany in 1863. It is headquartered in Leverkusen, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, where its illuminated sign is a landmark. Bayer's primary areas of business include human and veterinary pharmaceuticals; consumer healthcare products; agricultural chemicals and biotechnology products; and high value polymers. The company is a component of the Euro Stoxx 50 stock market index.[4]

Bayer's first and best known product was aspirin; there is a dispute about what scientist at Bayer made the most important contributions to it, Arthur Eichengrün or Felix Hoffmann. Bayer trademarked the name "heroin" for the drug diacetylmorphine and marketed it as a cough suppressant and (erroneously) non-addictive substitute for morphine from 1898 to 1910. Bayer also introduced phenobarbital, prontosil, the first widely used antibiotic and the subject of the 1939 Nobel Prize in Medicine, the antibiotic Cipro (ciprofloxacin), and Yaz (drospirenone) birth control pills. In 2014 Bayer bought Merck's consumer business, with brands such as Claritin, Coppertone and Dr. Scholl's. Its BayerCropscience business develops genetically modified crops and pesticides. Its materials science division makes polymers like polyurethanes and polycarbonate.

In 1925, Bayer became part of IG Farben, the world's largest chemical company. Following the Nazi takeover of Germany, IG Farben was embroiled in the Nazi regime's policies as a large government contractor. After World War II, Bayer was reestablished as an independent company, and quickly regained its position as one of the world's largest chemical and pharmaceutical corporations. Bayer has been involved in controversies regarding some of its drug products; its statin drug Baycol (cerivastatin) was discontinued in 2001 after 52 people died from renal failure, and Trasylol (aprotinin), used to control bleeding during major surgery, was withdrawn from the markets worldwide when reports of increased mortality emerged; it was later re-introduced in Europe but not in the US. Heroin, which Bayer had introduced as specified above, is now a Schedule I controlled substance in nearly all nations.


Early history

Bayer AG was founded in Barmen (today a part of Wuppertal), Germany in 1863 by Friedrich Bayer and his partner, Johann Friedrich Weskott.[1]

Bayer-Kreuz Leverkusen

The company's corporate logo, the Bayer cross, was introduced in 1904. It consists of the horizontal word "BAYER" crossed with the vertical word "BAYER," both words sharing the "Y", and enclosed in a circle.[5]:51 An illuminated version of the logo is a landmark in Leverkusen, the location of Bayer AG's headquarters.[6]


Bayer's first major product was acetylsalicylic acid (originally discovered by French chemist Charles Frederic Gerhardt in 1853), a modification of salicylic acid or salicin, a folk remedy found in the bark of the willow plant.[7][8] By 1899, Bayer's trademark Aspirin was registered worldwide for Bayer's brand of acetylsalicylic acid, but "Aspirin" lost its trademark status in the United States, France, and the United Kingdom because of the confiscation of Bayer's US assets and trademarks during World War I by the United States and the subsequent widespread usage of the word to describe all brands of the compound.[9] It is now widely used in the US, UK, and France for all brands of the drug. However, it is still a registered trademark of Bayer in more than 80 other countries, including Canada, Mexico, Germany, and Switzerland. As of 2011, approximately 40 thousand tons of aspirin are produced each year and 10 to 20 billion tablets are taken in the U.S. alone each year for prevention of cardiovascular events.[10] It is on the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines, the most important medications needed in a basic health system.[11]

There has been controversy over the roles played by Bayer scientists in the development of aspirin. Arthur Eichengrün, a Bayer chemist, claimed to be the first to discover an aspirin formulation which did not have the unpleasant side effects of nausea and gastric pain. Eichengrün also claimed that he invented the name aspirin and was the first person to use the new formulation to test its safety and efficacy. Bayer contends that aspirin was discovered by Felix Hoffmann to alleviate the sufferings of his father, who had arthritis. Various sources support the conflicting claims.[12][13] Most mainstream historians attribute the invention of aspirin to Felix Hoffmann and/or Arthur Eichengrün.[14][15]


Bayer Heroin bottle

Heroin (diacetylmorphine), now illegal as an addictive drug, was trademarked and marketed by Bayer as a cough suppressant and non-addictive substitute for morphine from 1898 to 1910.[16] Bayer scientists were not the first to make heroin, but their scientists discovered ways to make it, and Bayer led commercialization of heroin.[17] Heroin was a Bayer trademark until after World War I.[18]


In 1903, Bayer licensed the patent for the hypnotic drug diethylbarbituic acid from its inventors Emil Fischer and Joseph von Mering. It was marketed under the trade name Veronal as a sleep aid beginning in 1904. Systematic investigations of the effect of structural changes on potency and duration of action at Bayer led to the discovery of phenobarbital in 1911 and the discovery of its potent anti-epileptic activity in 1912. Phenobarbital was among the most widely used drugs for the treatment of epilepsy through the 1970s, and as of 2014, remains on the World Health Organization's list of essential medications.[19][20]

Prior to World War II

As part of the reparations after World War I, Bayer assets, including the rights to its name and trademarks, were confiscated in the United States, Canada, and several other countries.[1] In the United States and Canada, Bayer's assets and trademarks were acquired by Sterling Drug, a predecessor of Sterling Winthrop. In 1994, Bayer AG purchased Sterling Winthrop's over-the-counter drug business from SmithKline Beecham and merged it with Miles Laboratories, thereby reclaiming the U.S. and Canadian trademark rights to "Bayer" and the Bayer cross, as well as the ownership of the Aspirin trademark in Canada.[21]

In 1916 Bayer scientists discovered suramin, an anti-parasite drug that is still sold by Bayer under the brand name Germanin. The formula of suramin was kept secret by Bayer for commercial reasons; however, it was elucidated and published in 1924 by Ernest Fourneau and his team of the Pasteur Institute.[22]:378–379[23] It is on the World Health Organization's List of Essential Medicines, a list of the most important medication needed in a basic health system.[24]

Bayer became part of IG Farben, a German chemical company conglomerate, in 1925. In the 1930s, IG Farben scientists Gerhard Domagk, Fritz Mietzsch, and Joseph Klarer, discovered prontosil, the first commercially available antibacterial drug. The discovery and development of this first sulfonamide drug opened a new era in medicine.[25] Domagk received the Nobel Prize in Medicine for this work in 1939.[26]

World War II

During World War II, IG Farben used slave labor in factories that it built adjacent to German concentration camps, notably Auschwitz,[27] and the sub-camps of the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp.[28] IG Farben purchased prisoners for human experimentation of a sleep-inducing drug and later reported that all test subjects died.[29][30] IG Farben employees frequently said, "If you don’t work faster, you’ll be gassed."[31] IG Farben held a large investment in Degesch which produced Zyclon B used to gas and kill prisoners during the Holocaust.[32]

After World War II, the Allies broke up IG Farben and Bayer reappeared as an individual business "inheriting" many of IG Farben's assets.[29] Fritz ter Meer, an IG Farben board member from 1926 to 1945 who directed operations at the IG Farben plant at Auschwitz, was sentenced to seven years in prison during the IG Farben Military Tribunal at Nuremberg. He was elected Bayer's supervisory board head in 1956.[33]

In 1995, Helge Wehmeier, the head of Bayer, publicly apologized to Elie Wiesel for the company's involvement in the Holocaust at a lecture in Pittsburgh.[32]

Post World War II

Bayer factory in Leverkusen, Germany

In the 1960s, Bayer introduced a pregnancy test, Primodos, that consisted of two pills that contained norethisterone (as acetate) and ethinylestradiol. It detected pregnancy by inducing menstruation in women who were not pregnant. The presence or absence of menstrual bleeding was then used to determine whether the user was pregnant. The test became the subject of controversy when it was blamed for birth defects, and it was withdrawn from the market in the mid-1970s. Litigation in the 1980s regarding these claims ended inconclusively. A review of the matter by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency in 2014 assessed the studies performed to date, and concluded that it found the evidence for adverse effects to be inconclusive.[34]

In 1978, Bayer purchased Miles Laboratories and its subsidiaries Miles Canada and Cutter Laboratories, acquiring along with them a variety of product lines including Alka-Seltzer, Flintstones vitamins and One-A-Day vitamins, and Cutter insect repellent.[35]

Along with the purchase of Cutter, Bayer acquired Cutter's Factor VIII business. Factor VIII, a clotting agent used to treat hemophilia, was produced, at the time, by processing donated blood. In the early days of the AIDS epidemic, people with hemophilia were found to have higher rates of AIDS, and by 1983 the CDC had identified contaminated blood products as a source of infection.[36] According to the New York Times, this was "one of the worst drug-related medical disasters in history."[36] Companies, including Bayer, developed new ways to treat donated blood with heat to decontaminate it, and these new products were introduced early in 1984. In 1997, Bayer and the other three makers of such blood products agreed to pay $660 million to settle cases on behalf of more than 6,000 hemophiliacs infected in United States.[36] But in 2003, documents emerged showing that Cutter had continued to sell unheated blood products in markets outside the US until 1985.[36]

In the late 1990s, Bayer introduced a statin drug, Baycol (Cerivastatin) but after 52 deaths were attributed to it, Bayer discontinued it in 2001. The side effect was rhabdomyolysis, causing renal failure, which occurred with a tenfold greater frequency in patients treated with Baycol in comparison to those prescribed alternate medications of the statin class.[37]

2000s: Corporate divisions

In 2004, Bayer HealthCare AG acquired the over-the-counter (OTC) Pharmaceutical Division of Roche Pharmaceuticals.[38] In March 2006, Merck KGaA announced a €14.6bn bid for Schering AG, which had been founded in 1851 and by 2006 had annual gross revenue of around €5 billion[39] and employed about 26,000 people in 140 subsidiaries worldwide.[40] Bayer responded with a white knight bid and in July acquired the majority of shares of Schering for €14.6bn,[41] and in 2007, Bayer took over Schering AG and formed Bayer Schering Pharma. The acquisition of Schering was the largest take-over in Bayer's history,[40]:49–52[42] and as of 2015 this was one of the ten biggest pharma mergers of all time.[43]

In March 2008, Bayer HealthCare announced an agreement to acquire the portfolio and OTC division of privately owned Sagmel, Inc., a US-based company that markets OTC medications in most of the Commonwealth of Independent States countries such as Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Belarus, and others.[44][45] On 2 November 2010, Bayer AG signed an agreement to buy Auckland-based animal health company Bomac Group.[46]

Bayer partnered on the development of the radiotherapeutic Xofigo with Algeta, and in 2014 moved to acquire the company for about US$3,000,000,000.[47] In 2014, Bayer agreed to buy Merck's consumer health business for $14.2 billion which would provide Bayer control with brands such as Claritin, Coppertone and Dr. Scholl's. Bayer would attain second place globally in nonprescription drugs.[48] In June 2015, Bayer agreed to sell its diabetic care business to Panasonic Healthcare Holdings for a fee of $1.02 billion.[49] In September 2015, Bayer spun out its $12.3 billion materials science division into a separate, publicly traded company called Covestro in which it retained about a 70% interest.[50][51] Bayer spun out the division because it had relatively low profit margins compared to its life science divisions (10.2%, compared with 24.9% for the ag business and 27.5% for healthcare) and because the business required high levels of investment to maintain its growth, and to more clearly focus its efforts and identity in the life sciences.[50] Covestro shares were first offered on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange in October 2015.[52]

Effective January 2016 following the spinout of Covestro, Bayer rebranded itself as a life sciences company, and restructured into three divisions: Pharmaceuticals, Consumer Health, and Crop Science, which had an Animal Health business unit.[53] In May 2016, Bayer offered to buy U.S. seeds company Monsanto for $62 billion.[54] Shortly after Bayer's offer, Monsanto rejected the acquisition bid, seeking a higher price.[55] Bayer attempted to purchase Monsanto again for $66 billion in September 2016, Monsanto accepted this bid and the merger is pending approval.[56][57]

Acquisition history

The following is an illustration of the company's major mergers, acquisitions and historical predecessors:


Bayer AG
(Founded 1863)

Miles Laboratories
(Acq 1978)

Miles Canada

Cutter Laboratories


Corn King Company

Plastron Specialties

Pacific Plastics Company

Olympic Plastics Company

Ashe-Lockhart Inc

Haver-Glover Laboratories

Cutter Laboratories
(Founded 1897)

Sterling Winthrop
(Acq 1994, Over the counter division)

Roche Pharmaceuticals
(Acq 2004, Over the counter division)

Bayer Schering Pharma AG

(Acq 2006)


Sagmel Inc
(Spun off 2008)

Bomac Group
(Acq 2010)

(Acq 2014)

Merck & Co
(Acq 2014, Consumer Health Business)

(Spun off 2016)

Corporate structure

In 2003, to separate operational and strategic managements, Bayer AG was reorganized into a holding company. The group's core businesses were transformed into limited companies, each controlled by Bayer AG. These companies were: Bayer CropScience AG; Bayer HealthCare AG; Bayer MaterialScience AG and Bayer Chemicals AG, and the three service limited companies Bayer Technology Services GmbH, Bayer Business Services GmbH and Bayer Industry Services GmbH & Co. OHG. In 2016, the company began a second restructuring with the aim of allowing it to transition to a life sciences based company.[58] By divesting its Chemicals division in 2004 and with the aim of off-loading its Materials division by mid-2016, Bayer will be left with the four core units, as depicted below.[59][60]

Bayer AG Divested business units
Bayer Pharmaceuticals
Head of Division: Dieter Weinand
Bayer Consumer Health
Head of Division: Erica Mann
Bayer CropScience
Head of Division: Liam Condon
Animal Health
Head of Division: Liam Condon
Lanxess (Bayer Chemicals AG)
Diagnostics Division
Diabetes Devices Division
Covestro (Bayer MaterialScience)

Bayer CropScience

Bayer CropScience has products in crop protection (i.e. pesticides), nonagricultural pest control, seeds and plant biotechnology. In addition to conventional agrochemical business, it is involved in genetic engineering of food.[61] In 2002, Bayer AG acquired Aventis (now part of Sanofi) CropScience and fused it with their own agrochemicals division (Bayer Pflanzenschutz or "Crop Protection") to form Bayer CropScience; the Belgian biotech company Plant Genetic Systems became part of Bayer through the Aventis acquisition.[61] Also in 2002, Bayer AG acquired the Dutch seed company Nunhems, which at the time was one of the world's top five seed companies.[62][63]:270 In 2006, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that Bayer CropScience's LibertyLink genetically modified rice had contaminated the U.S. rice supply. Shortly after the public learned of the contamination, the E.U. banned imports of U.S. long-grain rice and the futures price plunged. In April 2010, a Lonoke County, Arkansas jury awarded a dozen farmers $48 million. The case is currently on appeal to the Arkansas Supreme Court. On 1 July 2011 Bayer CropScience agreed to a global settlement for up to $750 million.[64] In September 2014, the firm announced plans to invest $1 billion in the United States between 2013 and 2016. A Bayer spokesperson said that the largest investments will be made to expand the production of its herbicide Liberty. Liberty is used to kill weeds which have grown resistant to Monsanto's product Roundup. [65] In 2016, as part of the wholesale corporate restructuring, Bayer CropScience became one of the three major divisions of Bayer AG, reporting directly to the head of the division, Liam Condon.[66]

Bayer CropScience Limited is the Indian subsidiary of Bayer AG. It is listed on the Indian stock exchanges viz. the Bombay Stock Exchange & National Stock Exchange of India and has a market capitalization of $2 billion.[67] Bayer BioScience, headquartered in Hyderabad, India has about 400 employees, and has research, production and an extensive sales network spread across India.[68][69]

Bayer Consumer Health

Before the 2016 restructuring, Bayer HealthCare comprises a further four subdivisions: Bayer Schering Pharma, Bayer Consumer Care, Bayer Animal Health and Bayer Medical Care.[61] As part of the corporate restructuring, Animal Health was moved into its own business unit, leaving the division with the following categories; Allergy, Analgesics, Cardiovascular Risk Prevention, Cough & Cold, Dermatology, Foot Care, Gastrointestinals, Nutritionals and Sun Care.[70]

Bayer Consumer Care manages Bayer's OTC medicines portfolio. Key products include analgesics such as Bayer Aspirin and Aleve, food supplements Redoxon and Berocca, and skincare products Bepanthen and Bepanthol.[61] Women's healthcare is an example of a General Medicine business unit. Bayer Pharma produces the birth control pills Yaz and Yasmin. Both pills use a newer type of progesterone hormone called drospirenone in combination with estrogen. Yaz is advertised as a treatment for premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) and moderate acne. Other key products include the cancer drug Nexavar, the multiple sclerosis drug betaferon/betaseron and the blood-clotting drug, Kogenate.[61] In May 2014 it was announced that Bayer would buy Merck & Co's consumer health care unit for $14.2 billion.[71] Bayer also controls Dihon Pharmaceutical Group Co., Ltd in China.[72]

Bayer Pharmaceuticals

The Pharmaceuticals Division focuses on prescription products, especially for women’s healthcare and cardiology, and also on specialty therapeutics in the areas of oncology, hematology and ophthalmology. The division also comprises the Radiology Business Unit which markets contrast-enhanced diagnostic imaging equipment together with the necessary contrast agents.[73]

In addition to internal R&D, Bayer has participated in public–private partnerships. One example in the area of non-clinical safety assessment is the InnoMed PredTox program.[74][75] another is the Innovative Medicines Initiative of EFPIA and the European Commission.[76]

Bayer Animal Health

Bayer HealthCare's Animal Health Division is the maker of Advantage Multi (imidacloprid + moxidectin) Topical Solution for dogs and cats, Advantage flea control for cats and dogs and K9 Advantix, a flea, tick, and mosquito control product for dogs. Advantage Multi, K9 Advantix and Advantage are trademarks of Bayer. The division specializes in parasite control and prescription pharmaceuticals for dogs, cats, horses, and cattle. North American operation for the Animal Health Division are headquartered in Shawnee, Kansas. Bayer Animal Health is a division of Bayer HealthCare LLC.[77]

Bayer Business Services

Bayer Business Services located at the Bayer USA Headquarters in Robinson Township, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Pittsburgh, Bayer Business Services handles the information technology infrastructure and technical support aspect of Bayer USA and Bayer Canada. This is also the headquarters of the North American Service Desk, the central IT Help Desk for all of Bayer USA and Bayer Canada. Bayer Business Services also employs 4500 specialists in India.[78] Bayer Technology Services is engaged in process development and in process and plant engineering, construction and optimization.[61] Currenta offers services for the chemical industry, including utility supply, waste management, infrastructure, safety, security, analytics and vocational training[61] and is a joint venture between Bayer and Lanxess.[79]

Defunct business units

Bayer Chemicals AG (with the exception of H.C. Starck and Wolff Walsrode) was combined with certain components of the polymers segment to form the new company Lanxess on 1 July 2004. Lanxess was listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange in early 2005.[80]

Bayer HealthCare's Diagnostics Division was acquired by Siemens Medical Solutions in January 2007.[81]

Bayer Diabetes Care manages Bayer's medical devices portfolio. Key products include the blood glucose monitors Contour Next EZ (XT), Contour, Contour USB and Breeze 2 used in the management of diabetes.[61] The diabetes business unit was sold to Panasonic Healthcare Co. for $1.15 billion in June 2015[82]

Bayer MaterialScience was a supplier of high-tech polymers, and developed solutions for a broad range of applications relevant to everyday life.[61] On 18 September 2014, the Board of Directors of Bayer AG announced plans to float the Bayer MaterialScience business on the stock market as a separate entity.[83] On 1 June 2015 Bayer announced that the new company would be named Covestro[84] and Bayer formally spun out Covestro in September 2015.[50]




In 2014 pharmaceutical products contributed €12.05 billion of Bayer's €40.15 billion in gross revenue.[85] Top-selling products included


Bayer produces various fungicides, herbicides, insecticides, and some crop varieties.[106]

Bayer 04 Leverkusen

Main article: Bayer 04 Leverkusen

In 1904, the company founded the sports club TuS 04 ("Turn- und Spielverein der Farbenfabriken vorm. Friedr. Bayer & Co."), later SV Bayer 04 ("Sportvereinigung Bayer 04 Leverkusen"), finally becoming TSV Bayer 04 Leverkusen ("Turn- und Sportverein") in 1984, generally, however, known simply as Bayer 04 Leverkusen. The club is best known for its football team, but has been involved in many other sports, including athletics, fencing, team handball, volleyball, boxing, and basketball. TSV Bayer 04 Leverkusen is one of the largest sports clubs in Germany. The company also supports similar clubs at other company sites, including Dormagen (particularly handball), Wuppertal (particularly volleyball), and Krefeld-Uerdingen (featuring another former Bundesliga football club, SC Bayer 05 Uerdingen, now KFC Uerdingen 05).[125]

Chemical accident

On 28 August 2008, an explosion occurred at the Bayer CropScience facility at Institute, West Virginia, United States. A runaway reaction ruptured a tank and the resulting explosion killed two employees.[126] The ruptured tank was close to a methyl isocyanate tank which was undamaged by the explosion.[127]

Awards and recognition

In October 2008, Bayer's Canadian division was named one of "Canada's Top 100 Employers" by Mediacorp Canada Inc. The Canadian division was named one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers by the Toronto Star newspaper.[128] Bayer USA was given a score of 85 (out of 100) in the Human Rights Campaign's 2011 Corporate Equality Index, a measure of gay and lesbian workplace equality.[129]

In 2016, Standard Ethics Aei has given a rating to Bayer in order to include the company in its Standard Ethics German Index. Bayer has received an EE- rating, which is the fourth tier in an eight tier ranking. [130]

See also

Notes and references

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  31. (Benedikt Kautsky, hearing of witness, January 29, 1953. HHStAW, Sec. 460, No. 1424 (Wollheim v. IG Farben), Vol. II, pp. 257–264, here p. 264. (Transl. KL))
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