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|Location||Geneva, Switzerland (Headquarters)|
|Key people||Ernesto Bertarelli
Chairman of the Board
|Industry||Biotechnology / Pharmaceutical|
|Key Products||Rebif, Gonal-f, Luveris, Ovidrel/Ovitrelle, Serostim, Saizen, Zorbtive and Raptiva|
|Revenue||USD ~2.5 billion (2005)|
Serono was a biotechnology company headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. The company was founded as the Serono Pharmacological Institute by Cesare Serono in 1906 in Italy. A key step in its development was the discovery of a method of extracting urinary gonadotropins by Dr Piero Donini allowing the company to become a leader in the supplier of fertility medications, notably Pergonal. Serono was incorporated in 1987 and the holding company, Ares-Serono S.A., changed its name to Serono S.A. in May 2000.
Serono as a stand-alone company develops and markets pharmaceuticals in the fields of Reproductive Health, Multiple Sclerosis, Growth & Metabolism and Dermatology. It is a world-leader in the infertility market with an estimated market share of 60%, making it the third largest biotechnology company in the world. Serono's most important product accounted for 31.6% of the company's sales in 2004.
The eight biotechnology products are available in four core therapeutic areas: neurology for the treatment of relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis, reproductive health for treatments of infertility, dermatology, where Serono has launched biologics in Europe for moderate-to-severe psoriasis, and growth and metabolism for treatments for HIV-associated wasting and growth deficiencies.
The Company also conducts research in oncology and autoimmune diseases. Through the acquisition in 1997 of GBRI from GlaxoWelcome, becoming its Geneva based research institute named SPRI, and the Manteia Predictive Medicine spin-off, Serono also nursed the emergence of now a commercial leading massive parallel sequencing technology.
Sale to Merck KGaA
36% of Serono was sold to Merck KGaA in Sept. 2006 for € 10,6 Billion; Merck KGaA paid CHF 1,100 for each share. The new entity, which merges Serono with Merck's Ethicals division, is called Merck Serono. Its headquarters is in Geneva, within the new Serono facilities. The US operations are planned to remain near Boston. The process of merging started in January 2007 after various business regulatory reviews and phases are complete. Until that time, Serono and Merck KGaA still operate as separate entities. The new, combined entity, Merck Serono is expected to equal the sizes of other large biotechs.
The Perfillon-Bertarelli family still holds 21% stake in the company (worth more than 8 billion euros)
Serono operates in 44 countries, with manufacturing facilities in eight countries and sales in over 90 countries. Main manufacturing sites are in Switzerland, Italy, Spain and France; a fifth facility in Israel was closed in 2004 owing to its obsolescence. Research and development facilities are maintained in Geneva, Switzerland, Boston, USA, and Ivrea, Italy. It employs over 4,750 people with worldwide revenues of USD 2,586.4 million (2005). It has eight biotechnology products on the market, and more than 25 ongoing preclinical and clinical development projects at the end of 2005. Serono Headquarters and the Geneva research site moved to a brand new campus (Horizon Secheron) in the heart of Geneva in 2006.
In 2005, Serono agreed to a $704 million settlement with the Department of Justice to resolve civil and criminal allegations that the company engaged in a fraudulent scheme to promote the drug Serostim for off-label uses and paid out illegal kickbacks for prescribing the drug in violation of the False Claims Act.  The settlement is, to date, the sixth largest pharmaceutical settlement in U.S. history.
Serono provides Fertility LifeLines as a free and confidential source of information to infertility patients. 
Notes and references
- Official website
- A Company Profile
- Merck KGaA corporate homepage
- Serono Pharmaceutical Company Intelligence
- Selected Company Websites