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Bayer is a global pharmaceutical company known for making Aspirin. The company started more than 150 years ago and is now one of the largest corporations in the world. Bayer made about $41 billion in 2017. This is despite lawsuits that blame some of Bayer’s drugs and devices for injuries. The German-based company also has a history of scandal and marketing fraud.

Bayer is the maker of Aspirin. The popular pain reliever is one of the company’s oldest and most iconic products.

MiraLAX, Claritin, Alka-Seltzer, Midol and Aleve are Bayer’s other well-known consumer products.

But its prescription pharmaceuticals make up the majority of Bayer’s sales. Some of its popular pharmaceuticals include Levitra, Nexavar, Avelox, Cipro, Mirena and Xarelto.

The company also specializes in chemicals and veterinary products.

Bayer’s past includes Nazi ties and sales of HIV-tainted blood products. The company has also battled personal injury lawsuits and false marketing claims.

Bayer merged with Monsanto in 2016. Analysts say the company will likely put a heavier focus on agriculture in the future.

About Bayer

Bayer employs more than 115,000 people worldwide. More than 13,000 employees work at its 50-plus U.S. facilities.

German businessman Werner Baumann is Bayer’s CEO. He took the place of Marijn Dekkers in May 2016.

The company’s headquarters are in Germany. But its reach extends to America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

Bayer’s Revenues
Bayer raked in about $41 billion in 2017.

Bayer History

Friedrich Bayer and Johann Friedrich Weskott founded Bayer in 1863. The company developed Aspirin in 1899. Around that time, it also became the first company to sell heroin as a cough suppressant.

Bayer began producing explosives and chemical weapons during World War I.

Bayer, Heroin & Children
Bayer promoted heroin-use in children for colds and coughs up until 1912.

The government seized the company’s foreign assets, patents and trademarks. This included aspirin and heroin.

From 1925 to 1951, Bayer incorporated into chemical conglomerate IG Farben. Bayer did not exist as an individual company.

After World War II, the Allies dissolved IG Farben into 12 new companies. Bayer re-emerged in 1951 as Farbenfabriken Bayer AG.

Bayer remained under control of the Allies from the 1950s to the 1970s.

Bayer’s Nazi Connections

IG Farben was Bayer’s parent company during WWII. The company had extensive ties to the Third Reich. This is according to Auschwitz concentration camp documents.

Did You Know?
Bayer’s parent company built a plant at Auschwitz. It used prisoners for slave labor.

A 1999 lawsuit filed by Holocaust survivor Eva Mozes Kor revealed documents suggesting Bayer’s involvement in human experimentation. The lawsuit accused Bayer of paying Nazi officials for access to prisoners to test its drugs on.

Kor and her sister, Miriam, were among thousands of twins involved in the company’s experiments. They were 10 years old in 1945, when Allied forces defeated Nazi Germany.

Miriam died in 1993 of complications from the experiments. The lawsuit claimed Bayer provided toxic chemicals used in experiments.

Bayer resolved the lawsuit with the Foundation for Remembrance, Responsibility and the Future. The U.S. and German governments negotiated the $5 billion fund.

Bayer Products

Bayer separates its products into four categories. They are pharmaceuticals, consumer health, crop sciences and animal health.

Its pharmaceuticals division focuses on prescription products. This includes cardiology and women’s health care products.

Its consumer health division makes non-prescription products. These are for dermatology, nutrition, digestive health and cardiovascular prevention. Other areas include allergy, cough and cold, foot care and sun care.

Popular Bayer Pharmaceuticals and Consumer Health Products
Pain relievers
Antihistamine (allergy medicine)
Birth control pills
Uterine contraceptive devices (IUD)
Female sterilization device (permanent birth control)
Anticoagulant (blood thinner)
Fluoroquinolone antibiotics (for bacterial infections)
Injectable eye medicine
Powder laxative
Sunscreen and sun care products
Erectile dysfunction drug
Dr. Scholl’s
Foot care products

Bayer Lawsuits and Settlements

Some of Bayer’s popular drugs and devices have been problematic. Reported side effects led to personal injury lawsuits.

Yaz birth control pills
Yaz is a type of hormonal birth control.


More than 10,000 women filed Yaz lawsuits against Bayer. The company settled more than 8,000 cases for $1.7 billion. About 60 federal lawsuits remained pending as of May 2018.

Mirena Uterine contraceptive devices (IUD).
Mirena is an intrauterine contraceptive device (IUD).


More than 520 Mirena lawsuits were pending in New York in May 2018. Mirena lawsuits say Bayer failed to warn the device may move in the body.

Essure diagram in uterus
Essure is a form of permanent birth control.


Bayer agreed to settle nearly 39,000 Essure claims for $1.6 billion. Essure lawsuits blame the device for serious injuries and death.

Xarelto anticoagulant (blood thinner) pill
Xarelto is an anticoagulant (blood thinner) that can cause severe bleeding.


Bayer is fighting about 22,000 Xarelto bleeding lawsuits. The lawsuits are in a federal court in Louisiana.

Trasylol box
Studies link Trasylol to an increased risk of death.


Bayer settled about 150 Trasylol lawsuits for $60 million in 2010. Studies linked Trasylol to an increased risk of death and other serious injuries.

Baycol Pills
Baycol lawsuits focused on rhabdomyolysis. The serious muscle condition can lead to death.


In 2005, Bayer paid $1.1 billion to settle about 3,000 Baycol death and injury claims. Lawsuits focused on rhabdomyolysis, a serious muscle condition that can cause death.

Avelox (left) Cipro (right) pills
Avelox (left) and Cipro (right) are fluoroquinolone antibiotics. They can cause aortic injuries.

Avelox and Cipro

Bayer faces more than 780 lawsuits over fluoroquinolones like Cipro and Avelox. Cipro lawsuits and Avelox lawsuits say the antibiotics caused aortic injuries.

Bayer Drug Recalls

Bayer recalled some of its products due to incorrect labeling, choking hazards and deaths. Critics say some recalls didn’t come soon enough. Medical researchers say the lives of 22,000 people could have been saved had the FDA required an earlier recall of Trasylol.

Notable Bayer Recalls
Year Product Reason
1913 Heroin Hospitalizations and cases of drug abuse; Congress banned the sale, production and importation of heroin in 1924
2001 Baycol Deaths from rhabdomyolysis, a serious muscle condition
2007 Trasylol Increased risk of death, kidney damage, congestive heart failure and strokes
2017 RestoraLAX (Canadian version of powder laxative MiraLAX) Potential for choking hazard; clumps caused by poorly dissolved product deposits could be hazardous if swallowed
2018 Alka-Seltzer Plus - all products with the Bayer logo with an orange or green background sold after Feb. 9, 2018, at Walmart, CVS, Walgreens and Kroger stores Incorrect labeling; the ingredients listed on the front sticker may not match the ingredients included on the back of the carton posing a risk to patients with allergies or contraindications

Bayer Scandal

In the 1980s, Cutter Biological sold millions of dollars of HIV-tainted blood-clotting medicines to hemophiliacs. Cutter Biological is a division of Bayer.

Internal documents alleged the company made its medicine Factor VIII from the blood of prisoners, intravenous drug users and high-risk gay men.

The medicine infected thousands in the U.S. and abroad with HIV and hepatitis C. Many died.

Bayer did not admit wrongdoing. It set up a $600 million fund with three other companies to settle lawsuits. The lawsuits accused the companies of making a dangerous product.

Selling Tainted Drugs
Cutter made a heat-treated medication for Americans. But it continued to sell the tainted medication in Argentina and parts of Asia.
Bayer Logo
Bayer Facts
  1. Established August 1863
  2. Founder Friedrich Bayer
  3. Headquarters Leverkusen, Germany
  4. Size 99,820 (2017)
  5. 2017 Revenue $35 billion (EUR) or about $41 billion (USD)
  6. Bayer Subsidiaries Bayer Corporation (American subsidiary), Bayer Schering Pharma, Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals, Bayer CropScience, Bayer Healthcare LLC

Please seek the advice of a medical professional before making health care decisions.

Kristin Compton
Written By Kristin Compton Writer

Kristin Compton's background is in legal studies. She worked as a paralegal before joining Drugwatch as a writer and researcher. She was also a member of the National Association of Legal Assistants. A mother and longtime patient, she has firsthand experience of the harmful effects prescription drugs can have on women and their children. Some of her qualifications include:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies | Pre-Law from University of West Florida
  • Past employment with The Health Law Firm and Kerrigan, Estess, Rankin, McLeod & Thompson LLC
  • Personal experience battling severe food allergies, asthma and high-risk pregnancies
Edited By
Emily Miller
Emily Miller Managing Editor

37 Cited Research Articles writers follow rigorous sourcing guidelines and cite only trustworthy sources of information, including peer-reviewed journals, court records, academic organizations, highly regarded nonprofit organizations, government reports and interviews with qualified experts. Review our editorial policy to learn more about our process for producing accurate, current and balanced content.

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