Bristol-Myers Squibb

Company History

Bristol-Meyers Squibb’s history begins in 1887, when John Myers and William Bristol purchased Clinton Pharmaceuticals. In 1989, the company’s name became Bristol-Myers Company and they focused their company efforts on the production of only one product, a salt mineral laxative. After later adding a toothpaste product, Ipana, to its product line, Bristol-Myers Company was able to become a multi-million dollar manufacturer. In 1943, the company became a true producer of pharmaceuticals after acquiring Cheplin Laboratories. This company was a mass-producer of penicillin for the military during World War II, which comprised much of its new owner’s business by the end of the war.

Over the next several decades, the Bristol-Myers Company acquired several other companies, including Clairol, Mead Johnson, Zimmer, and Drackett. Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) was founded in 1989, following the merger of pharmaceutical giants Bristol-Myers and Squibb, Incorporated. Squibb Pharmaceuticals, of Princeton, New Jersey, was founded in 1858 by Edward Squibb. Bristol-Myers Squibb is based in New York City.

Within five years of its formation, BMS had a product line of over 60 items and global sales in excess of $50 million per year. In 2010 the company’s net sales were approximately $19.5 billion and the company ranked #114 on the Fortune Magazine 500. The company maintains over 20 manufacturing plants worldwide and devotes over $3.6 billion every year to research and development at ten science centers in five countries.

In 1999, BMS was awarded the nation’s highest honor for technological achievement, the National Medal of Technology. In awarding the medal, President Bill Clinton cited the company for its innovative approach to the clinical trial process. The company has also received acclaim for its environmental awareness. In 2008, Newsweek Magazine ranked BMS as eighth among the nation’s “greenest” companies.


Cisplatin, one of the leading chemotherapeutic treatments used with mesothelioma patients, was part of the dowry Bristol-Myers brought to the corporate union. Cisplatin was approved as a cancer treatment by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1978. This drug is a platinum-based drug administered intravenously for a variety of cancers characterized by solid malignancies.

Cisplatin had proven very effective in the treatment of testicular and ovarian cancers, but its therapeutic level was very close to its toxic level. Its side effects, including renal damage, mild bone marrow suppression and peripheral neuropathy, could be devastating as well. In 1989, BMS introduced Carboplatin, a less reactive platinum-based chemotherapeutic agent with fewer side effects.

Other Products

Bristol-Meyers Squibb manufactures prescription medication targeting a number of different diseases and infectious illnesses including:

  • Psychiatric Illnesses: Abilify (aripiprazole)
  • HIV Infection: Atripla (efavirenz/emtricitabine/tenofovir), Reyataz (atazanavir), Orencia (abatacept), Sustiva (efavirenz)
  • Hypertension: Avalide (irbesartan-hydrochlorothiazide), Avapro (irbesartan)
  • Hepatitis B infection: Baraclude (entecavir):
  • Thrombosis and embolism: Coumadin (warfarin)
  • Diabetes: Onglyza (saxagliptin)
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: Orencia (abatacept)
  • Vascular disease: Plavix (clopidogrel)
  • Cancer: Erbitux (cetuximab), Ixempra (ixabepilone), Sprycel (dasatinib), Taxol

Additionally, a number of Bristol-Meyer Squibb has a number of products targeting various diseases and infectious illnesses in development, including:

  • Ipilimumab: Melanoma, non-small cell lung cancer, small cell lung cancer and metastatic hormone-refractory prostate cancer
  • Belatacept: Graft survival
  • Apixaban: Thrombosis and embolism
  • Necitumumab: Non-small cell lung carcinoma
  • Dapagliflozin: Diabetes


Bristol Myers Squibb