Merck & Co. is a pharmaceutical company that was founded in 1668. Merck & Co. is an American pharmaceutical company, and is one of the most profitable pharmaceutical companies in the world. Merck & Co. has produced some of the most well-known drugs in the pharmaceutical business. Some of the products that Merck & Co. has produced are Coppertone sunscreen, Propecia, and Claritin.

Merck & Co. is America’s second-largest pharmaceutical company. Last year, Merck & Co. made approximately $47.2 billion in sales. Merck & Co. employs 83,000 people and produces several different kinds of medications and other medical products. They have manufactured over-the-counter medications like asthma and allergy medication as well as vaccines and diabetic medication for animals.

The History of Merck & Co.

Merck & Co. first got its start in Germany in 1668 when its founder, Friedrich Jacob Merck, bought an apothecary in Darmstadt, Germany to start his business. Nearly one-hundred and fifty years later, in 1827, Heinrich Emmanuel Merck converts the then pharmacy into a drug manufacturing facility. The first products that were sold by the facility were morphine, codeine, and cocaine.

Merck & Co. has played a notable role in current affairs throughout its history. In 1889, Merck & Co. first published what is known as the Merck Index. The Merck Index is an encyclopedia of chemicals, drugs, and biological information for use by health care professionals and scientists. Merck scientists also discovered vitamin B12 which became very profitable as both a therapeutic drug and additive for animal feed.

Merck & Co. worked with other major pharmaceutical companies through the 1980s and 1990s, such as Astra AB, Johnson & Johnson, Schering-Plough and Zeneca. Merck & Co. merged with Schering-Plough in 2009, giving them access to brand name products like Coppertone and Dr. Scholl’s.

Merck & Co. Controversy

There are numerous other lawsuit disputes regarding Merck & Co. Some of the other drugs that have led to litigation against Merck & Co. are Fosamax, Januvia, Nuvaring, and Propecia. Lawsuits filed against Merck & Co. are part of why the company’s stock was down by 7 percent by the end of 2012; and more personal injury lawsuits are expected to arise with the continued distribution of some of these medications.

Vioxx Scandal

The most well-known corporate scandal involving Merck & Co. is the Vioxx scandal. Vioxx was once a leading pharmaceutical pain treatment, however, Merck & Co. had problems when it was discovered that Vioxx caused death from heart attacks and stroke. Furthermore, the risks that were associated with the drug were hidden by the manufacturers. This subsequently led to lawsuits against Merck & Co. as well as a recall on Vioxx.


Fosamax was known to cause gastrointestinal problems and worsen other health problems a person may have. Patients also reported experiencing problems of the esophagus such as trouble swallowing (dysphagia), and gastritis (digestive irritation).

Although Fosamax is intended to prevent bone loss, one of the problems that can occur is a loss of bone density. Several other patients reported bone fractures as a result of Fosamax and a specific condition known as osteonecrosis (also known as “dead jaw syndrome”). These patient problems with Fosamax have led to FDA warnings, drug recalls, and Fosamax lawsuits against Merck & Co.


Tredaptive is not available in the U.S., however, Merck & Co. sells Tredaptive to about 40 other countries. Merck & Co. has recalled the drug but remaining stock is still available at pharmacies. Tredaptive is being recalled because of reports of negative side effects. This is based on a 25,000 person study conducted by European and Chinese scientists. Merck & Co. has stated that Tredaptive also does not help to reduce heart attack, stroke, or death in patients with cholesterol problems.


Januvia is a pharmaceutical medication for treating type 2 diabetes. It gained FDA approval in 2006, but has caused many different health problems for patients since. By 2011, over 200 patients had reported cases of pancreatitis as a result of Januvia. About 10 to 30 percent of these cases were fatal. Patients and their families have filed suit for compensation of these cases. Januvia lawsuits may become combined with Byetta lawsuits into a multidistrict litigation against Merck & Co. to help move through the cases more efficiently.

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