American Home Products: a Pharmaceutical Empire

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  • Topic: Wyeth, American Cyanamid, New Jersey
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  • Published : October 8, 1999
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History of American Home Products

American Home Products Corporation (AHP) was founded in 1926 and has a history of continuous acquisitions of smaller companies that made proprietary medicines. In 1931, AHP purchased John Wyeth & Brother, Inc. from Harvard University. Another important acquisition was that of Canada's Ayerst Laboratories in 1943. Ayerst was a large pharmaceutical company that had introduced Premarin, the world's first conjugated estrogen product, and now the most widely prescribed product in the United States ( In March of 1982, Sherwood Medical was acquired, enabling AHP to capture a share of the developing medical devices market. In 1984, Whitehall, an original member of AHP, started to market ibuprofen in the United States that was sold under the trademark Advil.

Lawyer John Stafford became CEO in 1986 and soon after he supervised the acquisition of Bristol-Meyer's animal health division and assimilated the new business into Fort Dodge, now Fort Dodge Animal Health. In 1989, AHP bought A.H. Robins along with its popular consumer products, including Chap Stick, Dimetapp, and Robitussin. AHP and American Cyanamid merged in 1994 in a deal valued at $9.6 billion. AHP introduced many new products in 1996, including Redux and Pondimin (Phen-Phen), two weight-reduction drugs. These drugs were later pulled from the market because of links to serious health problems and lawsuits soon followed. When 1998 mega-merger plans with SmithKline Beecham and Monsanto collapsed, AHP settled for the acquisition of New Jersey based Solgar Vitamin and Herb Company for $425 million. It's clear to see that AHP's history is comprised of acquisitions in the desire to be the ultimate leader of the pharmaceutical industry.


American Home Products has a surprisingly
vast array of products. From women's health care products to agricultural goods to animal health care products, AHP covers a variety of pharmaceutical needs.

Wyeth-Ayerst's research, products, and educational initiatives benefit millions of women. Premarin, the most widely prescribed medication in the United States, is a post-menopausal product that gained AHP notoriety when it was introduced in 1996. Wyeth-Ayerst also introduced Alesse in 1997, a low-dose oral contraceptive formulation that has become very popular in the birth control field.

Wyeth-Ayerst also focused its research on cardiovascular therapies and mental health products. Its cardiovascular research concentrates on medication for diseases such as arrhythmia and hypertension. Their anti-arrhythmia franchise leads the U.S. market, reflecting Wyeth-Ayerst's and AHP's recognition of life-threatening ventricular arrhythmia (Tardiff 114). Mental health products offered by Wyeth-Ayerst include anti-anxiety medications and the fast growing anti-depressant, Effexor, introduced in 1997.

AHP's family of companies also produces vaccines, cancer treatments, and pain and inflammation medications. Their vaccines prevent childhood and adult diseases such as whooping cough, diphtheria, poliomyelitis, meningitis, pneumonia, and influenza. Orimune, the only oral polio vaccine sold in the United States, is a familiar product of Wyeth-Ayerst. AHP is also known for their anti-cancer agents used by oncologists throughout the world. AHP's oncology and hematology franchises were strengthened in 1997 by the introduction of two new products; Neumega, the first approved platelet growth factor, and BeneFix, the only recombinant clotting factor treatment for Hemophilia B. Wyeth-Ayerst also holds a solid position in the pain and inflammatory category. With the introduction of Duract and Synvisc in 1997, AHP gained notable recognition in the pain reduction medication area.

AHP's range of products doesn't stop there. They also produce items in areas such as anti-invectives, nutritionals, consumer health care, agricultural products, and animal health care....
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