Sterling Drug, Winthrop Chemical, and I.G. Farben
Sterling Drug was founded in 1901 by William E. Weiss and Albert H. Diebold of Wheeling, West Viginia, to manufacture and sell a pain-relieving preparation
called "Neuralgine". The company's original name was Neuralgyline. Within a few years, Weiss and Diebold realized that expansion required more product
lines and that these would be best obtained by acquisition. This policy continued throughout the life of the organization. At least 130 companies were
acquired between 1902 and 1986. Weiss and Diebold changed the name of the company in 1917 to Sterling Drug, Inc.
Sterling Drug benefited from World War I. When supplies of drugs from Germany were cut off by the Allied blockade, they set up the Winthrop Company to
manufacture the active ingredients. After the war, Sterling acquired the American Bayer Company. They established a separate subsidiary, the Bayer
Company, to market Bayer Aspirin. During the 1930s, Winthrop made Sterling a leader in the pharmaceutical field with such renowned products as Luminal,
the original phenobarbitol; Salvarsan and Neo-Salvarsan, the first effective drugs in the treatment of syphilis; Prontosil, the first of the sulfa drugs; and
Atabrine, the synthetic antimalarial that replaced quinine during World War II. The company expanded overseas in 1938, and eventually operated seventy
plants in forty countries. Sterling was especially profitable in Latin America. In 1988, in order to avoid a hostile takeover by Hofmann-LaRoche, Sterling
became a division of Eastman Kodak and remained one until 1994 when Kodak decided to dispose of its health-related businesses. Bayer purchased for $1
billion the U.S. aspirin business and the rights and trademarks it had lost in World War I.
Winthrop Chemical Company was a 50/50 joint venture of Sterling Drug and I.G. Farben. This arrangement allowed I.G. Farben to reenter the U.S.
pharmaceutical market after World War I. Manufacturing took place at the former Bayer Company plant in Rensselaer, NY. Raymond Foster was president
of Winthrop Chemical, retiring in 1934. The photo and letters reproduced below document the retirement dinner for Foster. These historic documents
have been donated to The Sidney M. Edelstein Center for the History and Philosophy of Science, Technology, and Medicine, Jerusalem.
|This congratulatory letter of June 29, 1934 to Raymond Foster, on the occasion of his retirement from as head of Winthrop
Chemical, was signed by I.G. Farben board members Wilhelm Rudolph Mann and August von Knierem.
|In 1945 Mann and Knieriem were arrested by the U.S. Army and charged in the Nuremberg trial against I.G. Farben. Mann was charged with
plundering and mass murder. von Knieriem was charged with plundering and enslavement. Both men were acquitted. Other I.G. Farben
executives were found guilty of war crimes and served prison terms. Photos: National Archives
1) "Sterling Drug Inc.", Smithsonian Institution, http://siris-archives.si.edu/ipac20/ipac.jsp?uri=full=3100001~!238454!0#focus, accessed September 25. 2009
2) "August von Knieriem", Wolheim Memorial, http://www.wollheim-memorial.de/en/august_von_knieriem_18871978, accessed September 25, 2009
3) "Wilhelm Rudolph Mann", Wolheim Memorial, http://www.wollheim-memorial.de/de/wilhelm_rudolf_mann_18941992, accessed September 25, 2009
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