Merck Company History Timeline


Merck & Co. was founded in the United States on January 1, 1891.

1891 – Merck in Germany became Merck KGaA or “German Merck” and a United States subsidiary called Merck & Co., Inc. was established in New Jersey.

And in 1891, the company’s United States branch Merck & Co. opened.

1891: George Merck, grandson of Heinrich Merck, joins the United States branch, known as Merck & Company.

In 1891, with a capital of $200,000 received from E. Merck, Weicker started Merck & Co., with headquarters in lower Manhattan.


Merck & Co. sold the first commercially used smallpox vaccine in the United States in 1898.


In 1899, the company published its first Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy, which remains one of the most widely used medical texts (an online version can be searched at the Merck web site).

1899: The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy is first published.


The company established a manufacturing facility in Rahway, New Jersey in 1902.


The manufacture of drugs and chemicals at this site began in 1903.

1903: United States production begins at a site in Rahway, New Jersey.


George Merck's son, George W. Merck, began his career in the packing and shipping department in 1914, and he received training in most branches of the business.


So after that brief overview of the differentiation between Merck KGaA and Merck & Co, it’s now time to find out the direction Merck & Co took after becoming independent in 1917.


In 1919, at a United States government auction, in partnership with Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers, George W. Merck bought back the company for $3.5 million, but Merck & Co. remained a separate company from its former German parent.


The first major event of the younger Merck's tenure--which would last 25 years--was the 1927 merger with Philadelphia-based Powers-Weightman-Rosengarten, a pharmaceutical firm best known for antimalarial quinine.

1927: Company merges with Powers-Weightman-Rosengarten and is incorporated as Merck & Co., Inc.


Sharp and Dohme had acquired H. K. Mulford Company in 1929, adding smallpox vaccines to its portfolio.


In 1933, he established a large laboratory and recruited prominent chemists and biologists to produce new pharmaceutical products.


Tuberculosis was historically a leading cause of death in the United States In 1943, Doctor Selman Waksman and Albert Schatz discovered streptomycin, the first effective treatment for the disease.

In 1943, Streptomycin was discovered during a Merck-funded research program in Selman Waksman's laboratory at Rutgers University.


In 1953, Merck & Co. merged with Philadelphia-based Sharp & Dohme, Inc., becoming the largest United States drugmaker.


Partners since 1954 under a joint business venture called Nippon Merck-Banyu (NMB), the companies used Japanese detail men (or pharmaceutical sales representatives) to promote Merck products.


At the time of George W. Merck's death in 1957, company sales had surpassed $100 million annually.


In 1961, a Merck research team led by Doctor William Campbell discovered thiabendazole, the first drug known to kill the trichinella parasite in sheep, goat, cattle and pigs.


In 1963, Merck manufactured the first measles vaccine.


In 1965, Merck acquired the Montreal-based company Charles E. Frosst Ltd and created the Canadian subsidiary and pharmaceutical research company, Merck-Frosst Canada Inc.

1965: Henry W. Gadsen is named CEO and launches an ill-advised diversification program.


In 1963, Merck manufactured the first measles vaccine. It made the first mumps vaccine in 1967.


The company was incorporated in New Jersey in 1970.


In 1975, the company's name was added to a growing list of United States companies involved in illegal payments abroad.

The research leading to the discovery of chlorothiazide, leading to "the saving of untold thousands of lives and the alleviation of the suffering of millions of victims of hypertension" was recognized by a special Public Health Award from the Lasker Foundation in 1975.


From Guinea to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the world was dealing with the largest and most complex Ebola outbreaks since the virus was first discovered in 1976.

1976: John J. Honran succeeds Gadsen and reemphasizes drug research.


In 1979, for example, Merck began to market Enalapril, a high-blood-pressure inhibitor, similar to the drug Capoten, which was manufactured by Squibb.

1979: Company begins marketing Enalapril, a high-blood-pressure inhibitor whose annual sales eventually reach $550 million.

In 1979, Merck scientists developed lovastatin (Mevacor), the first drug of the statin class.


In 1984, Honran claimed Merck had become the largest United States-based manufacturer of drugs in the three largest markets--the United States, Japan, and Europe.


1985: Doctor P. Roy Vagelos takes over as CEO; Vasotec, a treatment for congestive heart failure, is introduced.

In 1985, Merck received approval for imipenem, the first member of the carbapenem class of antibiotics.


Sales for Enalapril reached $550 million in 1986.

The following year, Honran resigned as CEO. In 1986, his successor, Doctor P. Roy Vagelos, a biochemist and the company's former head of research, also was awarded the ethical drug industry's gold award.

In fact, Merck was ranked as one of the '100 Best Companies to Work for in America' and one of Working Mother magazine's '100 Best Companies for Working Mothers' since that ranking's 1986 inception.


Mevacor, a cholesterol-lowering drug introduced in 1987, and ivermectin, the world's top-selling animal health product, also contributed to the company's impressive growth.

In 1987, Merck CEO Doctor Roy Vagelos announced Merck's commitment to donate Mectizan - as much as needed for as long as needed - with the goal to help eliminate river blindness.


1988: Vasotec becomes Merck's first billion-dollar-a-year drug.


In 1989, Merck transferred its RECOMBIVAX HB vaccine technology to the Chinese government, where hepatitis B was the largest public health challenge in the country with an estimated 100 million carriers of the disease.


The company joined with DuPont to form the joint venture DuPont Merck Pharmaceutical in 1991.


Merck and Connaught Laboratories, Inc. (later part of Aventis S.A.) jointly agreed in 1992 to develop combination vaccines in the United States.


In 1993 Merck acquired Medco Containment Services Inc. for $6.6 billion.

Vagelos's choice, Richard J. Markham, resigned unexpectedly in mid-1993, just months before the CEO's anticipated retirement.


Named CEO in June 1994 and chairman in November of that year, Gilmartin had helped turn around medical equipment maker Becton Dickinson & Co. as that firm's chairman and CEO.

In September 1994 he set up a 12-member management committee to help him run the company and plot strategies for growth.

In 1994 Merck created a venture with a related company, Pasteur Merieux Connaught (which was also later part of Aventis S.A.), to market combination vaccines in Europe.


Through its joint venture with Johnson & Johnson, Merck also received United States approval in April 1995 for the antacid Pepcid AC, an OTC version of Merck's Pepcid.

In 1995 Merck sold its Kelco specialty chemicals division to Monsanto Company for $1.1 billion, and its other specialty chemicals unit, Calgon Vestal Laboratories, went to Bristol-Myers Squibb Company for $261 million.


One highly successful drug that was the source of controversy is Crixivan, an inhibitor of the HIV protease enzyme that is critical to the replication of the virus that causes AIDS. Introduced in April 1996, the drug was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in only 46 days, a record.

shaw, donna. "merck & co., rhone-poulenc sa plan animal-health joint venture." knight-ridder tribune business news, 20 december 1996.

The eight drugs accounted for more than $1 billion in sales in 1996, about ten percent of the company's total drug sales.

In 1996, CEO Ray Gilmartin told Business Week that he was not seeking any large acquisitions, which he believed would only be "a distraction." Merck has pursued, however, numerous strategic alliances.

In 1996 Merck paid $1.8 million for polluting the air.


In July 1997 Merck exited from the agribusiness sector when it sold its crop protection unit to Novartis for $910 million.

Merck also restructured its animal health unit by combining it with that of Rhone-Poulenc S.A. to form Merial, a stand-alone joint venture created in August 1997.

Actelion profile and corporate video Actelion is a pharmaceuticals and biotechnology company established in December 1997, headquartered in Allschwil near Basel, Switzerland.

In 1997 Merck ranked third—more than 8,000 clubs held its shares.

In 1997 it remained the nations largest pharmacy-benefit services company.

In 1997 the company strengthened its marketing efforts and acquired Istituto Gentili in Italy.

In 1997, the changes Gilmartin instituted appeared to have stabilized the company and stemmed the tide of defecting top managers.


In the January 12, 1998 issue of Fortune magazine, Merck was named one of the Top 100 companies to work for in America.

Merck's stock was performing well, valued at around $133.00 per share in mid-1998.


The US FDA approved Vioxx (rofecoxib) in May 1999 – the drug had been evaluated in eight clinical trials involving 5,400 subjects.


Zocor was likely to have worldwide sales of more than $5 billion in 2000.

In anticipation of patent expiration on some of Merck's hypertension and high-cholesterol drugs around the year 2000, the company focused on developing and marketing new products to fuel its growth.


How did Vioxx debacle happen?, USA Today (10/2004)


In 2005, CEO Raymond Gilmartin retired following Merck's voluntary worldwide withdrawal of Vioxx.


Peter N. Kellogg is the Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer and has been since August 2007.

2007 The company agreed to pay $2.3 billion to settle a tax dispute with the Internal Revenue Service.

In 2007, Merck committed to donating 3 million doses of GARDASIL over 5 years to support vaccination programs in the world's lowest-income nations.


Associated Press. (2008, February 7). Merck settlement one of largest ever in health fraud. has provided reliable, trusted information about medications, medical devices and general health since 2008.

2008 Merck paid $671 million to settle federal health-care fraud claims.


In November 2009, Merck & Co. completed a merger with Schering-Plough in a US$41 billion deal.

Merck & Co. merged with Schering-Plough in 2009, giving them access to brand name consumer products like Coppertone and Doctor Scholl’s and has since acquired a large number of smaller companies to remain as the second-largest pharmaceutical company in the United States

The misleading publication came to light in 2009 during a personal injury lawsuit filed over Vioxx; 9 of 29 articles in the journal's second issue referred positively to Vioxx.


Because of the possible side effects, the FDA released a drug safety communication in October 2011.

Richard Clark retired as CEO and company president in October 2011 and Kenneth Frazier became CEO.

The company also launched a free online health resource called Merck Engage in 2011, which enables patients around the world to take “steps towards better health”. These steps include help managing health conditions, healthy eating ideas and ways to better communicate with healthcare professionals.

By 2011, over 200 patients had reported cases of pancreatitis as a result of Januvia.

A settlement with Johnson & Johnson was reached in 2011, in which Merck agreed to pay $500 million.


Financial results for the full-year 2012 reported that total worldwide sales decreased by 2% to US $47.3 billion, largely impacted by the loss of market exclusivity on Merck & Co’s asthma medication Singulair in the United States.

“Merck overcame significant challenges last year and delivered strong results in 2012 by successfully growing our businesses; expanding geographically and reducing our expenses.


2013 – Today, Merck KGaA and Merck & Co are two separate companies.

2013 Merck paid $688 million to settle two shareholder lawsuits.


In August 2014, Merck acquired Idenix Pharmaceuticals for $3.85 billion.

By 2014, research performed at Merck has led to United States FDA approval of 63 new molecular entities.


In January 2015, Merck acquired Cubist Pharmaceuticals.

In July 2015, Merck and Ablynx expanded their 18-month-old immuno-oncology collaboration by four years, generating a potential $4.4 billion in milestone payments for the Abylnx.

FDA. (2015, August 28). FDA drug safety communication: FDA warns that DPP-4 inhibitors for type 2 diabetes may cause severe joint pain.

A judge dismissed Januvia lawsuits in 2015.


In July 2016, the company acquired Afferent Pharmaceuticals, developer of a candidate used to block P2RX3 receptors, for approximately $1 billion, plus up to $750 million in milestone payments.

Merck & Co. holds the trademark rights to the "Merck" name in the United States and Canada, while its former parent company retains the rights in the rest of the world; the right to use the Merck name was the subject of litigation between the two companies in 2016.


In April 2017, Merck Animal Health acquired Vallée S.A., a Brazilian animal health product manufacturer.

In 2017, it had revenues of $40.1 billion.


In June 2018, Merck acquired Viralytics, an Australian viral cancer drug company, for AUD$502 million.

In 2018, Merck began the submission process for a Biologics License Application to the Food and Drug Administration under the Breakthrough Therapy Designation for an investigational vaccine, called V920, to fight the Zaire strain of the Ebola virus.


In June 2019, Merck announced it would acquire Tilos Therapeutics for up to $773 million.


In June 2020, Merck acquired Themis Bioscience, a company focused on vaccines and immune-modulation therapies for infectious diseases including COVID-19 and cancer.


In April 2021, Merck acquired Pandion Therapeutics for $1.85 billion, expanding its offering in treating autoimmune diseases.

In July 2021, Robert M. Davis became CEO, succeeding Kenneth Frazier, who became executive chairman.

First Quarter of 2021: Great Strength in Challenging Market Environment


© 2022 Privacy Policy / Advertising Disclosure / Do Not Sell My Info

First Quarter: Strong Start into Fiscal 2022

Work At Merck?
Share Your Experience
Company Founded
Kenilworth, NJ
Company Headquarter
George Merck,Theodore Weicker
Company Founders
Get Updates for Jobs and News

Merck Jobs Nearby

Merck Jobs

Merck Similar Companies

Company NameFounded DateRevenueEmployee SizeJob Openings
Johnson & Johnson1886$94.9B134,5004,721
Gilead Sciences1987$27.3B11,800577
Sanofi Genzyme1981$4.6B12,000-
Bristol-Myers Squibb1887$46.2B30,00020,429
Eli Lilly and Company1876$28.5B33,625314
Find Jobs from Similar Companies
Personalize your job search. Where would you like to work?

Merck Similar Companies Jobs

Merck History FAQs

How Old Is Merck?

Merck is 132 years old.

Who Is The Founder Of Merck?

George Merck and Theodore Weicker founded Merck.

Zippia gives an in-depth look into the details of Merck, including salaries, political affiliations, employee data, and more, in order to inform job seekers about Merck. The employee data is based on information from people who have self-reported their past or current employments at Merck. The data on this page is also based on data sources collected from public and open data sources on the Internet and other locations, as well as proprietary data we licensed from other companies. Sources of data may include, but are not limited to, the BLS, company filings, estimates based on those filings, H1B filings, and other public and private datasets. While we have made attempts to ensure that the information displayed are correct, Zippia is not responsible for any errors or omissions or for the results obtained from the use of this information. None of the information on this page has been provided or approved by Merck. The data presented on this page does not represent the view of Merck and its employees or that of Zippia.

Merck may also be known as or be related to Merck, Merck & Co Inc, Merck & Co., Merck & Co. Inc., Merck & Co., Inc., Merck Patient Assistance Program, Inc., Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. and merck/schering-plough.