Merck & Co., Inc. is a US-based multinational pharmaceutical and healthcare company. It was officially founded in 1891 as the US arm of Merck Group, headquartered in Germany. Merck Group was founded in 1668 when Friedrick Jacob Merck purchased a pharmacy in Darmstadt, Germany. The company transformed from a pharmacy into a drug manufacturer in 1827 with the commercialization of morphine and the perfection of the manufacturing process. The company will later gain recognition for isolating and commercializing the manufacture of cocaine as well.
Merck Group sent Theodore Weicker to New York as its representative in 1889 and he quickly began to set up operations. The original investment of $200,000 resulted in a facility in lower Manhattan and the addition of Merck family member George Merck to the project. They began operations in 1891 and were in business as the US branch of Merck Group until 1917 and the onset of World War I.
World War I brought about the Trading With The Enemy Act of 1917 and the nationalization of Merck Group’s US operations. Those operations were repurchased at a government auction only 2 years later with the help of Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers, but the split was done. The company retained rights to the Merck name in the US but remained independent. One of many noteworthy achievements in the post-War period is the discovery of streptomycin, which was revolutionary in treating tuberculosis.
In 1953 the company merged with Sharp& Dohme to form the then 2nd largest US drug manufacturer. The merger brought smallpox vaccines to the portfolio and opened a new avenue of research for the business. Since then, advancements in vaccine technology include treatments for mumps and chickenpox. Other notable advancements include the discovery of statins as a cholesterol inhibitor and work in veterinary medicine.
Today, Merck & Co operates through 2 segments and under 2 different names with a headquarters in Kenilworth, NJ. The company operates as Merck & Co in the US and as Merck Sharp & Dohme outside the US and Canada. The 2 segments are Pharmaceutical and Animal Health. Revenue topped $49 billion in 2022 and employed more than 68,000 people. The company has 8 research facilities near major university systems, including 7 in the US and 1 in the UK. As of 2022, the company had 82 pipeline products in Phase 2 trials, 30 in Phase 3 trials and 3 under review.
The Pharmaceutical segment researches discover and commercializes human health products in several areas of medicine. These include but are not limited to oncology, acute care, immunology, neuroscience, virology, cardiovascular, and diabetes. This segment has 6 blockbuster drugs as of late 2022, with each generating more than $1 billion in revenue. The leading treatments are Keytruda for treating cancer-related immune conditions, Gardisil which is a vaccine for HPV and Januvia for treating Type-II diabetes. The Animal Health segment discovers, develops, manufactures, and markets veterinary healthcare products and services. Both segments sell to healthcare facilities and distributors.