On the 15th May 2008, after a long battle, Bayer was finally forced to withdraw its Trasylol drug from the market. If they had done so when they first knew it was dangerous, thousands of lives could have been saved. This is the latest instalment in the history of a company steeped in controversy; one in which profit has always been made at the expense of people.
Bayer AG was founded in Germany in 1863. In 1898 they were responsible for introducing heroin to America as The Sedative for Coughs and continued to market it after being aware of its damaging effects. As we shall see, this is a recurrent theme of Bayer’s practises.
In World War I, Bayer manufactured poisonous gasses used in the trenches such as chlorine gas and mustard gas. During World War II it became part of IG Farben, a conglomerate of German chemical industries which formed the financial core of the Nazi regime and used slave labour from the Birkenau concentration camp to produce its products. One of Farben’s developments was Zyklon-B, used by the Nazis to gas victims in those same camps.
Bayer executive Fritz ter Meer was sentenced to seven years in prison by the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal for experimenting on prisoners. During his trial, in reference to the experiments he said, “concentration camp prisoners were not subjected to exceptional suffering, because they would have been killed anyway.” He was made head of the supervisory board of Bayer in 1956, after his release.
Bayer continued to grow, becoming the third largest pharmaceutical company in the world. In the mid-1980’s they sold a product called Factor VIII concentrate, which can stop or prevent bleeding in people with haemophilia. Several companies, including Bayer, were involved in selling Factor VIII which had been discovered to have been infected with HIV. In the United States, AIDS was passed on to thousands of haemophiliacs, many of whom died, in one of the worst drug-related medical disasters in history.
However it wasn’t until 2003 that the New York Times revealed that Bayer had continued producing and selling this infected product to Asia and Latin America after February 1984 when a safe product was available, in order to save money.
‘‘These are the most incriminating internal pharmaceutical industry documents I have ever seen,” reported Dr. Sidney M. Wolfe in the Times, who as director of the Public Citizen Health Research Group had been investigating the industry’s practices for three decades.
Bayer, science for a better life.
They are right up there with the rest of the hazardous substance producers being a big of a bunch of crooks.
Hey anybody know where I can buy some of that "Heroin"? I feel a bit of a twinge....