Novartis was created in 1996 through the merger of Ciba-Geigy and Sandoz, two companies with a rich and diverse corporate history. Throughout the years, Novartis and its predecessor companies have discovered and developed many innovative products for patients and consumers worldwide.
To learn more about our history and key achievements, click on the timeline above.
1758-1970: Geigy, Ciba and Sandoz
The history of Novartis traces back to three companies: Geigy, whose origins go back to the middle of the 18th century; Ciba, founded around 1859; and Sandoz, established in 1886.
Johann Rudolf Geigy-Gemuseus (1733-1793) begins trading in "Materials, Chemicals, Dyes and Drugs of all Kinds" in Basel, Switzerland.
Johann Rudolf Geigy Merian (1830-1917), together with Johann Müller-Pack, acquires a site in Basel and builds a dyewood mill and a dye extraction plant. Two years later, they begin producing synthetic fuchsine.
The Geigy company is traded for the first time as a public limited company. Soon after the company name is changed to J.R. Geigy Ltd.
Geigy Colour Company Ltd. is founded in Manchester, UK.
Geigy begins producing textile auxiliaries; this business is later taken over by Ciba.
Geigy begins producing insecticides. Ciba would begin activity in this field in 1954.
A pharmaceutical department is created, marking an increased focus on healthcare.
Manufacturing begins at a new plant in Schweizerhalle, Switzerland. Paul Müller, a Geigy researcher, discovers the effectiveness of DDT as an insecticide and receives the Nobel Prize for this discovery in 1948.
Antirheumatic drug Butazolidin (phenylbutazone) becomes the first major pharmaceutical product for Geigy.
Geigy introduces the first triazine-based herbicides (Simazine, Atrazine).
Geigy has its first successes in psychotropic drugs, marked by the introduction of Tofranil (Imipramine).
Geigy introduces the first long-lasting diuretic, Hygroton (chlorthalidone), for the treatment of high blood pressure.
Antiepileptic Tegretol (carbamazepine) is introduced.
Geigy merges with Ciba to form Ciba-Geigy Ltd.
Alexander Clavel (1805-1873) takes up the production of fuchsine in his silk dyeing factory in Basel, Switzerland.
Clavel sells his dye factory to the new company Bindschedler & Busch.
Bindschedler & Busch has a commercial presence in Germany, France, England, Italy, Russia and the US.
Bindschedler & Busch transforms into a joint-stock company renamed Gesellschaft für Chemische Industrie Basel (Company for Chemical Industry Basel). Use of the abbreviation "Ciba" becomes so widespread that it is eventually adopted as the company's name.
Ciba produces its first pharmaceutical substances: Vioform, an antiseptic, and Salen, an antirheumatic agent.
Ciba acquires a production site in Monthey, Switzerland. In 1911 Ciba creates its first factories in England and Italy; in 1915 production expands to Russia and Germany.
Sandoz, Ciba and Geigy create a pooling agreement called Interessen-gemeinschaft Basel (Basler IG). This arrangement is disbanded in 1950.
Coramine, a circulatory drug, is first produced in Ciba laboratories.
Ciba takes over Geigy's production of textile auxiliaries.
The abbreviation “Ciba” is formally adopted as the company name.
The epoxy resin Araldite is introduced into the adhesive market by Ciba.
Ciba begins producing insecticides.
Desferal (chelating agent-deferrioxamine methanesulphonate), a breakthrough product for the treatment of iron and aluminum overload, is introduced.
Ciba merges with Geigy to form Ciba-Geigy Ltd.
The chemical company Kern & Sandoz is founded in Basel, Switzerland, by Dr. Alfred Kern (1850-1893) and Edouard Sandoz (1853-1928). The first dyes produced are alizarin blue and auramine.
Kern & Sandoz is transformed into a joint-stock company called Chemische Fabrik vormals Sandoz, and produces its first pharmaceutical substance: antipyrine, a fever-controlling agent.
Saccharin production begins, marking the first diversification into sweetening agents.
The pharmaceutical department is created by Professor Arthur Stoll (1887-1971), and pharmaceutical research begins.
Stoll isolates ergotamine from ergot. The substance is eventually used to treat migraine headaches and is introduced under the trade name Gynergen in 1921.
The company introduces Calcium Sandoz, a breakthrough product that lays the foundation for modern calcium therapy. The chemicals department is created.
Sandoz makes its first steps into agribusiness. The first product developed is the pesticide Copper Sandoz, introduced a few years later.
The neuroleptic drug Melleril (thioridazine HCl) is introduced, marking a milestone in the history of psychotropic pharmaceuticals.
Sandoz acquires Biochemie GmbH in Kundl, Austria, and large-scale production of antibiotics and substances is developed on the basis of biotechnology.
The company's first research center outside Switzerland is established in East Hanover (New Jersey, US). This expansion is followed by the Sandoz Research Institute in Vienna, Austria and the Sandoz Institute for Medical Research in London.
Sandoz merges with Wander Ltd., marking the beginning of diversification into the dietetics business (Ovaltine, Isostar).
1970-1996: Ciba-Geigy and Sandoz
In 1970, Ciba and Geigy merged. The newly created Ciba-Geigy Ltd. and Sandoz continued to follow separate paths for two and a half decades.
Antirheumatic drug Voltaren (diclofenac sodium) is launched.
Diversification into the seeds business begins with the acquisition of the US-based Funk Seeds International.
Ciba-Geigy begins a joint venture with the American firm ALZA Corp. to develop transdermal therapeutic systems. Systemic fungicide Ridomil is introduced.
Ciba-Geigy creates a biotechnolgy unit.
The first transdermal delivery system, Scopoderm TTS (hyoscine hydrobromide), is introduced for travel sickness.
CIBA Vision is organized as a business unit of Ciba-Geigy.
Ciba-Geigy and biotechnology company Chiron form a strategic partnership.
Sandoz and Ciba-Geigy merge to form Novartis in one of the largest corporate mergers in history.
1975Sandoz advances into the seeds market with the acquisition of the American firm Rogers Seed Co. and then Northrup King in 1976.
1977Anti-allergic drug Zaditen (ketotifen) is introduced.
1982Immunosuppressant Sandimmun (cyclosporine) is introduced, followed by Neoral (cyclosporine) in 1994. Sandoz acquires Wasa, the Swedish crisp bread producer.
1994Sandoz acquires baby food company Gerber.
In 1996, Sandoz and Ciba-Geigy joined to form Novartis. Novartis is a global leader in innovative pharmaceuticals, generics, vaccines and consumer health products.
Syngenta is created through the merger of the agribusiness units of Novartis and AstraZeneca.
The antiviral products Famvir and Vectavir/Denavir are acquired from SmithKline Beecham.
Novartis American Depositary Shares (ADSs) are listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).
Dr. Daniel Vasella becomes Chairman of the Board of Directors, retaining his position as Chief Executive Officer.The Novartis Research Foundation announces establishment of the Novartis Institute for Functional Genomics.
Novartis announces an agreement to acquire Merck's crop protection business.In December 1996, Novartis is created through the merger of Ciba-Geigy and Sandoz to create one of the world's largest healthcare companies.
Novartis increases its investment in Roche Holding AG to just under one-third of Roche's voting shares.
Lek Pharmaceuticals, a Slovenian generic pharmaceuticals company, is acquired by Sandoz for USD 900 million.
Associated British Foods acquires the Food and Beverage Business Unit as part of a decision by Novartis to divest the Health and Functional Food business.
Novartis unifies and strengthens its global research network by creating the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research (NIBR), headquartered in the US.
Acquisition of the worldwide adult medical nutrition business of Mead Johnson and Company, a subsidiary of Bristol-Myers Squibb, is announced.
A majority interest in Idenix Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a
US-based biotech company focused on antiviral and anti-infective therapies, is acquired as part of a strategic expansion into antiviral medicines.
The Novartis Institute for Tropical Disease opens in Singapore with a focus on biomedical research for dengue fever and drug-resistant tuberculosis.
Novartis acquires two generics companies: the Danish firm Durasacan A/S from AstraZeneca, and Sabex Holdings Ltd. of Canada.
Novartis submits Xolair (omalizumab) for EU approval for the treatment of allergic asthma, with approval granted in 2005.
The Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research (NIBR) announce a joint project with the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard to research the genetic causes of type 2 diabetes. Findings from the project will be available online, accessible by scientists worldwide.
Several Novartis generic pharmaceutical businesses are unified under Sandoz, and the unit is named as a division of the Novartis Group, joining Pharmaceuticals and Consumer Health.
The Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development celebrates its 25th anniversary with a symposium on the right to health.
Data from a landmark trial shows that more than 90% of patients taking Gleevec/Glivec (imatinib mesylate) to treat chronic myeloid leukemia were alive after more than four years of treatment. The Glivec International Patient Assistance Program (GIPAP) has provided free treatment to nearly 27,000 patients in more than 80 countries who otherwise would not have access to this innovative therapy.
Novartis acquires Hexal AG, a leading generics company based in Germany, and Eon Labs, an American generics company, making Sandoz a world leader in generic pharmaceuticals.
Aclasta gains regulatory approval in Europe as a treatment for Paget's disease of the bone. Aclasta/Reclast is subsequently approved in both the US and EU as the first and only once-yearly treatment for women with postmenopausal osteoporosis in 2007.
Novartis acquires the North American OTC brand portfolio of Bristol-Myers Squibb, expanding Novartis presence with several strong brands.
Novartis reaches agreement to buy the remaining stake in Chiron Corporation and the acquisition is completed in April 2006.
Novartis and Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc. create an alliance focused on discovering innovative therapies based on RNA interference (RNAi), an approach that has potential to treat disease in a new way by silencing disease-causing genes.
Exjade (deferasirox), a breakthrough once-daily oral iron chelator, receives approval in the US for the treatment of chronic iron overload due to blood transfusions in adults and children. Exjade is approved in the EU in 2006.
Novartis announces the creation of a strategic biomedical R&D center in Shanghai, China.
The Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases (NITD) initiates research on malaria - estimated to kill more than one million people annually - as part of a new public-private partnership.
Through a partnership with the WHO, Novartis provides its highly-effective anti-malaria treatment Coartem (artemether- lumefantrine) without profit in developing countries. The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) grants Novartis a contract for up to USD 220 million to build a cell culture-based influenza vaccine production plant in the US, recognizing Novartis as a leader in influenza vaccine development.
Omnitrope (somatropin [rDNA origin]) receives European Commission approval as the first product approved under the European Union's new regulatory pathway for follow-on biological products. The approval of Omnitrope is part of Sandoz strategy to offer follow-on biotech products after patent expiry.
Novartis enhances its vaccines pipeline through partnership with Intercell. Based in Vienna, Austria, Intercell is a biotechnology company that designs and develops vaccines to prevent and treat infectious diseases.Novartis is solely focused on healthcare after completing non-core business divestments of the Gerber and Medical Nutrition Business Units to Nestlé for USD 5.5 billion and USD 2.5 billion respectively.Novartis is ranked No. 1 among pharmaceutical companies in Fortune magazine's ''World's Most Admired Companies'' survey.
Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases (NITD) inaugurates an Indonesian research initiative to study dengue fever, tuberculosis and malaria. This collaboration between NITD, the Eijkman Institute in Jakarta, and the Hasanuddin University Clinical Research Institute in Makassar will recruit top scientists from Indonesia and provide NITD researchers access to patients suffering from these diseases.
Tekturna/Rasilez, the first new type of high blood pressure medicine in more than a decade, receives approvals in the US and the EU.
Novartis reaches an agreement with Nestlé S.A. offering Novartis the right to acquire majority ownership of Alcon Inc., the world leader in eye care with pharmaceutical, surgical and consumer products.
Novartis opens a new vaccine research institute in Siena, Italy - the Novartis Vaccines Institute for Global Health - with a nonprofit mission to exclusively focus on the development of vaccines for diseases of the developing world.
Novartis is named healthcare super sector leader in the 2008 update of the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index and is included in the 2008 “World's Most Ethical Companies”list from Ethisphere Institute. The company also moves up five positions, to number 20, in the Barron'smagazine list of the world's most respected companies.
Gleevec/Glivec becomes the first US FDA-approved treatment for use after gastrointestinal stromal tumor surgery.
Novartis announces a 20% reduction in the price of its antimalaria medicine Coartem due to efficiency gains in production. In 2008 Novartis made 70 million treatments of this leading antimalarial available without profit.
Novartis delivers the 250 millionth treatment of Coartem, a highly effective artemisinin-based combination therapy for malaria. From 2001 to the end of 2009, a total of 300 million treatments have been delivered, saving an estimated 750 000 lives in more than 60 malaria-endemic countries.
Novartis becomes the first company to produce influenza A (H1N1) vaccines with modern cell-culture biotechnology that complements 50-year-old egg-based production processes. In Holly Springs, North Carolina, Novartis opens the first large-scale US-based manufacturing facility for influenza cell-culture vaccines and adjuvants.
Novartis announces USD 1 billion investment over five years in China to build the country's largest pharmaceutical R&D institute.
Prevacid24HR launches in pharmacies and retail stores across the US to treat frequent heartburn for a full 24 hours with one pill a day. The launch marks one of the biggest Rx-to-OTC switches in the US.
2010New management is in place for the next phase of growth. Novartis completes CEO succession with appointment of Joseph Jimenez as new CEO and simplifies its leadership organization.
Dr. Daniel Vasella will focus on strategic priorities as Chairman of the Board of Directors.
Novartis proposes to complete purchase of majority stake in Alcon, followed by all-share direct merger of Alcon into Novartis. The addition of eye care will strengthen the Novartis healthcare portfolio and provide greater access to this attractive sector.
In a major innovation milestone, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves Gilenya as the first oral treatment for relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. Gilenya was also approved in Russia and Switzerland.
Menveo, approved in Europe and the United States for immunization of adolescents and adults to prevent invasive meningococcal disease caused by four of the five most common types of the bacteria that causes the disease.
Sandoz enoxaparin approved by the FDA as the first generic version of the low molecular weight heparin that helps prevent formation of bloods clots.
1.2 billion patients worldwide provided with medical care by Novartis.
Seventeen major approvals achieved including FDA approval for Dailies Total1, the industry's first water-gradient silicone hydrogel contact lens, and Flucelvax, the first cell-culture vaccine in the US to help protect against seasonal influenza.
Fougera Pharmaceuticals Inc. acquired by Sandoz, making the division the number one generic dermatology medicines company in the US and globally.
More than 100 million patients reached through access-to-healthcare programs valued at USD 2 billion.
Dr. Daniel Vasella steps down as Chairman of the Board of Directors after 25 years with Novartis. Dr. Joerg Reinhardt is elected to succeed him, effective August 1, 2013.