Merck KGaA is a German chemical and pharmaceutical company headquartered in Darmstadt, with around 40,000 employees in around 70 countries. Merck was founded in 1668 and is the world's oldest operating chemical and pharmaceutical company.The company was privately owned until going public in 1995. However, the Merck family still controls a majority (≈70%) of the company's shares.

Following World War I, Merck lost possession of some of its foreign assets, including the Merck & Co. subsidiary in the United States. Merck & Co., which operates as Merck Sharp and Dohme (MSD) outside the U.S. and Canada, is now an independent company. While Merck in Darmstadt is the legal successor of the original Merck and retains the rights to the name "Merck" in all countries except the U.S. and Canada, it is sometimes known as the "German Merck" or "Merck Darmstadt" in North America. The company was formerly also referred to as "E. Merck" (Emanuel Merck).

Merck KGaA operates mainly in Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania and Latin America. Since Merck & Co. holds the rights to the Merck name in the U.S. and Canada, the company operated under the umbrella brand EMD Chemicals in North America, and since 2010 as EMD Millipore (after the acquisition of Millipore Corporation), formed from the initials of Emanuel Merck, Darmstadt.

The roots of Merck reach back into the 17th Century. In 1668, Friedrich Jacob Merck, an apothecary, assumed ownership of the Engel-Apotheke ("Angel Pharmacy") in Darmstadt, Germany.

In 1816, Emanuel Merck took over the pharmacy. Thanks to his scientific education he was successful in isolating and characterizing alkaloids in the pharmacy laboratory. He began the manufacture of these substances "in bulk" in 1827, touting them as a "Cabinet of Pharmaceutical and Chemical Innovations". He and his successors gradually built up a chemical-pharmaceutical factory that produced — in addition to raw materials for pharmaceutical preparations — a multitude of other chemicals and (from 1890) medicines.

Merck's current EMD (an abbreviation of "Emanuel Merck, Darmstadt") logo used in the U.S. and Canada

In 1891, Georg(e) Merck established himself in the United States and set up Merck & Co. in New York. Merck & Co. was confiscated following the First World War. and set up as an independent company in the United States. Today, the US company has about 86,000 employees (December 2011) in 120 countries. It is one of the top 5 pharmaceutical companies worldwide, larger than its German ancestor, which employs around 40,700 people in 67 countries (December 2011).

Merck Korea received the "Leading Investor Award" at the 5th Korea-EU Industrial Cooperation Day in 20111.

On March 13, 2006, Merck announced a takeover bid for Schering AG, the world's largest producer of oral contraceptives. On March 23, 2006, Bayer AG made a supported offer for Schering and Merck decided to drop out of the bidding for the company. Schering is not to be confused with Schering-Plough which was once part of Schering AG but was acquired by Merck & Co. in 2009 

In September 2006 the company announced a takeover bid of $13.2 billion for Serono SA, Switzerland's largest biotech firm. The deal included a buy-out of the Bertarellifamily's 64.5% stake in Serono to be followed by a public tender offer for the remaining shares starting in November 2006.[9] The combined company has an R&D budget of approximately $1.1 billion and sales of approximately $4.6 billion. Its approximately $2 billion in sales of biologics would make it 7th among pharmaceutical/biotech companies. The new entity, Merck Serono, began operations in 2007.

In 2010 Merck took over Billerica (MA) based Millipore Corporation for EUR 5.3 billion (US$ 7.2 billion). It is now a division of Merck's business unit chemicals - Merck Millipore.

With the acquisition of Millipore, Merck is consolidating its US holdings and shutting down the Gibbstown facility and warehouse. Gibbstown operations will be transferred to the new Philadelphia office and Millipore headquarters.

In December 2013, the company bought AZ Electronic Materials SA (AZEM) for about $2.6 billion in cash to increase its offering of specialty chemicals to the electronics industry.

In September 2014 Merck halted the clinical development of two drug candidates in development with Oxygen Biotherapeutics. One drug candidate suffered a lack of success in patient recruitment, with its MUC1 antigen-specific cancer immunotherapy drug, tecemotide (L-BLP25), missing its Phase I/II endpoint of increasing overall survival in patients with Stage III non-small cell lung cancer. Later in September it was announced that the company would acquire Sigma-Aldrich for $17 billion. 

In November 2014, Merck and Pfizer agreed a deal for the latter to sell the former sharing rights to develop an experimental immunotherapy drug for a fee of $850 million.




After Wilhelm Adam Sertürner's isolation of morphine from opium in 1805, Merck pioneered (from 1827) the commercial manufacture of morphine for an expanding global market. From 1884 onwards, Merck also played role in the production and marketing of cocaineSigmund Freud, author of Über Coca (1884), was an enthusiastic collaborator in Merck's coca research, though the methodological sophistication of his self-experimentation studies has been challenged. Attention was directed at vitamins as a new product category, and Vigantol was introduced in 1927, followed by Cebion in 1934.

Following the defeat of Germany in World War II, Merck was granted permission by the military government to produce drugs, pesticides, food preservatives, reagents, and fine chemicals for laboratory use. Soon afterwards the boom commonly known as the "Wirtschaftswunder" (economic miracle) set in. For Merck this meant two-digit sales-growth figures for many years. Products of this time included corticoid preparations — for example Fortecortin, which is still used today — the cold remedy Nasivin or the hormone preparations Gestafortin and Menova.

Merck currently employs over 2500 people in its 4 R&D hubs viz. Boston, Darmstadt, Beijing and Tokyo. In the year 2013, Merck invested over €1183 million in its R&D operations. The focus of Merck's current pharmaceutical R&D is on oncology and cardio-metabolic care. In the former therapeutic area, its first marketed product is Erbitux (cetuximab), for which it has marketing rights worldwide, apart from North America. (Cetuximab was discovered by Imclone Systems, and is marketed in North America by Bristol-Myers Squibb.) Other products from Merck include Metformin, Bisoprolol, Levothyroxine and Digitoxin. Merck's clinical research strategy consists of a partnership with Quintiles in which the latter helps the former in the clinical development of all its compounds. 



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