Bayer AG is a pharmaceutical and healthcare company headquartered in Leverkusen, Germany. They’ve been in operation for over 150 years and currently rank as the third-largest pharmaceutical company in the world with over $54 billion in yearly revenue and more than 5,000 employees.
Bayer manufactures everything from over-the counter and prescription drugs to pesticides and veterinary medications. DrugNews contains information on several popular medications produced by the company, including Yaz and Yasmin birth control, Mirena IUD contraceptives, and the blood thinner Xarelto.
Founded in 1863 by Friedrich Bayer and Johann Wescott, Bayer is best known as the company that invented aspirin. However, they have a checkered past that has both benefited and harmed millions around the world.
In the late 1800s, Bayer began marketing a revolutionary new product discovered by a French scientist that was derived from salicylic acid. They named the compound aspirin, and by the end of the century, it would be licensed and sold around the globe.
Soon after the invention of aspirin, Bayer developed and patented heroin, which was initially sold as a cough suppressant prior to World War I.
Bayer went on to develop and market widely successful drugs like the sleep aid Veronal in 1904, derived from diethylbarbituic acid, and phenobarbital, an anti-epileptic medication, in 1912.
As part of their war reparations from World War I, Bayer was forced to surrender its assets, trademarks and holdings in the United States. This included the exclusive rights to aspirin.
Most people are shocked to learn that the company that makes many of their household products had a connection with Nazi Germany and the war crimes of the holocaust during World War II. However, they played an integral part in this dark period.
Despite Bayer’s loss of all property and rights in the U.S. and Canada following World War I, they continued to thrive in Germany. Eventually, they joined a group of other chemical industry leaders to form IG Farben, which provided a large part of the financial support for the Nazi party.
Together, Bayer and IG Farben owned over 42% of the chemical firm that manufactured Zyklon B, an agent used in the gas chambers of Auschwitz and other extermination camps.
Reports also show Bayer used substantial amounts of slave labor during World War II in factories linked to concentration camps so that they could maintain their operations.
After World War II, IG Farben was dismantled by the Allied Forces because of the help it provided to the Nazis. Bayer then reorganized itself as an independent company. In 1956, the company named Fritz ter Meer as its chairman right after he served seven years in prison for Nuremberg trial convictions of helping carry out experiments on human subjects at Auschwitz.
While they have undoubtedly helped millions of people worldwide with their healthcare products, it has also been alleged that the drugs and chemicals sold by Bayer have caused widespread injury and side effects.
As if that isn’t enough, a United Nations panel concluded that Bayer helped finance the Civil War in the Congo with illegal trade of the mineral coltan. Bayer has settled charges of fraud on the U.S. government, and the company has removed itself from the oversight of both the New York Stock Exchange and the Securities and Exchange Commission.
In the past decade, Bayer has been embroiled in litigation over alleged side effects from their products, and has paid out billions of dollars to victims. Some of the lawsuits and settlements continue to this day.
A sampling of these lawsuits includes:
DrugNews can connect those injured by Bayer products with a lawyer for help at no cost. Contact us today if you have any questions.