|Revenue||US$9.249 billion (2022)|
|US$1.448 billion (2022)|
Number of employees
|Footnotes / references|
Sandoz Group AG is a Swiss-Germany based company that focuses on generic pharmaceuticals and biosimilars. Prior to October 2023, it was part of a division of Novartis that was established in 2003, when Novartis united all of its generics businesses under the name Sandoz. Before this, the company existed as an independent pharmaceutical manufacturer until 1996, when it was merged with Ciba-Geigy to form the company Novartis. Prior to the merger, it specialized in medicines used in organ transplants, such as Sandimmune, and various antipsychotics and migraine medicines. Its headquarters were in Holzkirchen, Germany and after the spin-off from Novartis, the headquarters moved to Basel, Switzerland. Sandoz is one of the leading global generics business.
1886–1995: Formation and initial growth
The company was founded in 1886 by Alfred Kern (1850–1893) and Edouard Sandoz (1853–1928) in Basel (Switzerland) under the name Chemiefirma Kern und Sandoz. Initially the company focused on production of dyes namely alizarin blue and auramine. When Kern died, the company changed its name to Chemische Fabrik vormals Sandoz in 1895 and began producing pharmaceuticals for the first time the same year. As early as 1895, the first pharmaceutical substance called antipyrine was produced to reduce fever. In 1899 they started producing saccharin.
In 1938 Albert Hofmann produced the synthetic substance lysergic acid diethylamide, better known as LSD. The psychoactive properties of this preparation were nevertheless not discovered until 1943, when Hofmann ingested a small amount by accident. From 1947 to the mid-60s, LSD was sold by Sandoz under the name Delysid . It was marketed as a treatment for a wide variety of mental ailments, ranging from alcoholism to sexual deviancy. Sandoz suggested in its marketing literature that psychiatrists take LSD themselves, to gain a better subjective understanding of the schizophrenic experience, and many did exactly that and so did other scientific researchers. The Sandoz product received mass publicity as early as 1954, in a Time magazine feature. Research on LSD peaked in the 1950s and early 1960s. The CIA purchased quantities of LSD from Sandoz for use in its illegal human experimentation program known as MKUltra. Sandoz withdrew the drug from the market in 1965. The drug became a cultural novelty of the 1960s after psychologist Timothy Leary at Harvard University began to promote its use for recreational and spiritual experiences among the general public.
In 1939, Kern & Sandoz became Sandoz Ltd., a name it operated under for nearly sixty years.
In 1963, Sandoz acquired Biochemie GmbH, which was producing and supplying scarce, urgently needed acid-resistant penicillin.
1996–2023: Merger with Ciba-Geigy and developments under Novartis
On December 20, 1996, the merger of Sandoz and Ciba-Geigy led to the creation of Novartis. The Sandoz brand name was then only used in the pharmaceutical business for over-the-counter medicines.
The former company name Sandoz was reactivated in May 2003 with the merger of the globally differently named generics companies of the parent company Novartis under the uniform brand name Sandoz. In addition to the name, the company logo used before the merger was also adopted.
In 2002, Sandoz acquired Lek Pharmaceuticals d.d., Slovenia's largest pharmaceutical company.
In 2003, Novartis united its global generics businesses under a single global brand, reestablishing the name Sandoz as a division of Novartis. The Amifarma S.L. production plant in Palafolls, located near Barcelona, Spain was also acquired.
In February 2005, Sandoz acquired over Hexal AG and Eon Labs. The integration into Sandoz created the second largest generics group in the world and the largest on the German market with annual sales of 7.6 billion US dollars (2008) and over 23,000 employees in 130 countries. The headquarters have been in Holzkirchen since 2005. Sandoz's Swiss administrative headquarters are in Rotkreuz ZG in the municipality of Risch in the canton of Zug.
In 2012, Sandoz acquired Fougera Pharmaceuticals, entering the generic (topical) dermatology business.
In November 2018, it was announced that Novartis would convert Sandoz into an independent entity over the next two years. In March 2019, it was announced that CEO Richard Francis had resigned for personal reasons and that Francesco Balestrieri, Sandoz's European head, had taken over management ad interim. Richard Saynor was appointed as CEO later in 2019.
In August 2022, Novartis said the spin-off of Sandoz into a standalone company would be completed by the end of 2023. As part of the spin-off, Sandoz announced in June 2023 it would move its headquarters from Holzkirchen, Germany to Basel, Switzerland.
2023–present: Return to a standalone company
In September 2023, Novartis announced that the spin-off had been approved by its shareholders and that it would be completed by the next month, resulting in Novartis shareholders receiving one Sandoz share for every five Novartis shares. Sandoz was listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange with a market capitalization between $18 billion and $25bn.
On October 4, 2023, Novartis completed the spin-off of Sandoz as a stand-alone company.
1986 Sandoz warehouse fire in Schweizerhalle
On November 1, 1986, a major fire broke out in a warehouse containing 1,350 tonnes (2,980,000 lb) of chemicals in what was then Sandoz in Schweizerhalle. The thick smoke, the stench and the unknown composition of the combustion gases caused the authorities in the neighboring communities to alert the population early in the morning with a general siren alarm and a curfew of several hours was imposed. No people suffered acute harm, with the exception of three people with pre-existing asthma who required hospitalization. However, the toxins found their way into the Rhine via the extinguishing water, where they caused a large number of fish to die off.
On November 11, 1986, the analysis of water samples proved that at the same time as the Rhine was being polluted by the contaminated extinguishing water from the Sandoz area, 400 kg of atrazine , a herbicide, had been discharged into the Rhine from the neighboring chemical company Ciba-Geigy.
The official investigation report came to the conclusion (only "on the basis of theoretical considerations") that when pallets were packed with Prussian blue, incorrect handling of a hot air blower led to a hot spot, which could be the cause. Subsequent trials, however, resulted in no conviction. The plant now belongs to Clariant.
To this day, the landfill left after the fire continues to pollute the groundwater in Muttenz and is actively monitored by Novartis, as the legal successor to Sandoz, and the environmental authorities of the Canton of Basel-Landschaft.
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