Novartis was created in 1996 through a merger of Ciba-Geigy and Sandoz. Novartis and its predecessor companies trace roots back more than 250 years, with a rich history of developing innovative products. From beginnings in the production of synthetic fabric dyes, the companies that eventually became Novartis branched out into producing chemicals and ultimately pharmaceuticals.
The history of Novartis traces the converging destinies of three companies: Geigy, a chemicals and dyes trading company founded in Basel, Switzerland in the middle of the 18th century; Ciba, which began producing dyes in 1859; and Sandoz, a chemical company founded in Basel in 1886.
These companies shared a common trait which lives on at Novartis: a passion for developing and marketing new products that contribute to human progress through advances in science and health. Building on this heritage, today Novartis focuses its innovation prowess on addressing the unmet needs of patients worldwide.
In 1758, Johann Rudolf Geigy-Gemuseus (1733-1793) founds the trading company J.R. Geigy in Basel, Switzerland to deal in "Materials, Chemicals, Dyes and Drugs of all Kinds.
In 1859, Alexander Clavel (1805-1873) takes up the production of fuchsine, a synthetic dye, in his silk dyeing factory in Basel, Switzerland.
The chemical company Kern & Sandoz is founded in Basel, Switzerland in 1886 by Dr. Alfred Kern (1850-1893) and Edouard Sandoz (1853-1928). The first dyes produced are alizarin blue and auramine.
In 1900, Ciba produces its first pharmaceutical substances: Vioform, an antiseptic, and Salen, an antirheumatic agent. This image shows pharmaceutical research at Ciba in Basel, Switzerland in 1914.
In 1917, Professor Arthur Stoll creates a pharmaceutical department at Sandoz, and research begins.
Geigy President Louis von Planta and CIBA President Robert Käppeli shake hands to conclude the merger of CIBA-GEIGY in 1970.
In 1996, the merger of Sandoz and Ciba-Geigy creates Novartis, one of the world's largest healthcare companies. This image, taken on February 3, 1997, shows the old logo being changed out at the Novartis St. Johann site in Basel.
Novartis unifies and strengthens its global research network in 2002 by creating the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research (NIBR), headquartered in the US in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
In 2010, Novartis becomes the world leader in eye care when it acquires majority ownership in Alcon, Inc., based in the US in Fort Worth, Texas.
Novartis completes a series of transactions that focus the company on three leading divisions: Pharmaceuticals, Alcon (eye care) and Sandoz (generic medicines).
On April 9th, 2019, Alcon becomes a separately traded standalone company while Novartis strengthens its focus on Innovative Medicines and generic medicines (Sandoz).