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Our History

Our History | Merck
At Merck, we think in generations. Our goal is to pass the company on to the next generation better than we found it. This is the mindset that has allowed us to exist for almost 350 years. The growth of the organization from a family-run pharmacy in 1668 into today’s multibillion-dollar pharmaceutical and chemical company is the result of 13 generations of scientists, pharmacists and chemists dedicated to advancing discoveries that improve the lives of people around the world.


In 1668, Friedrich Jacob Merck purchased the Engel Pharmacy in Darmstadt, Germany.

The transformation of Merck to a research-driven industrial company was marked in 1827 when Emanuel Merck isolated and characterized alkaloids for distribution to chemists. As the century progressed, so did the company. New ultrapure products were sold; the first biotechnology production process was introduced; and Merck entered the market.

Today, Merck is a global pharmaceutical, chemical and life science company with a history that began in 1668 and a future shaped by approximately 50,000 employees in 66 countries.

For the full history, click here.


Sigma and Aldrich were founded separately in 1935 and 1951, respectively, to supply biochemicals and chemicals to research scientists in the U.S. Both companies started with the production and distribution of a single proprietary chemical: Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) by Sigma and 1-methyl-3- nitro-1-nitrosoguanidine (MNNG) by Aldrich. For many years, the two companies grew independently, Sigma serving primarily biochemists and Aldrich serving organic chemists.

When changing trends in chemical research confirmed the synergy to be realized from their complementary product offerings, Aldrich Chemical Co. merged with Sigma International, Ltd. in 1975, forming Sigma-Aldrich Corporation. With this marriage of broad capabilities and resources, annual double-digit sales growth became the standard in the 1980s and 1990s, with significant expansion in facilities, acquisitions and ventures into new market sectors.

Millipore Corporation

In 1954, a modest filtration company with just a handful of employees opened for business. The company pioneered the use of membrane technology in hundreds of applications. Later changing its name to Millipore Corporation to reflect its growing range of products and expanded core capabilities, the company would expand - through strategic acquisitions, targeted capital investments and organic growth - to a global, billion-dollar life science corporation.

Merck Millipore

In 2010, Millipore Corporation was acquired by Merck and became part of the company’s life science tools division, operating in North America using the umbrella brand “EMD.” With a range of more than 60,000 products on offer, this division captured significant opportunities in high-growth, high-margin market segments such as bio-research and bio-production.

Merck Life Science

On November 18, 2015, Merck announced the completion of its $17 billion acquisition of Sigma-Aldrich, creating a global leader in the €125 billion industry to help solve the toughest problems in life science. This transaction brought together the world-class products and services, innovative capabilities and exceptional talent of Merck Millipore and Sigma-Aldrich to create a global leader in the life science industry. The company operates as MilliporeSigma in North America.