This company is older than you’d ever guess. 

Merck is one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. It operates across the globe, with a massive operating budget of more than eight billion dollars per year and a huge range of products. With nearly one hundred and fifty years in business, Merck has made a name for itself as a top prescription drug manufacturer.

Merck is the seventh largest drug manufacturer in the world by both revenue and by market capitalization. It’s ranked in the top eighty largest United States companies by revenue on the Fortune 500 list

The home office of Merck is located in Kenilworth, New Jersey. 


Merck has a history that traces all the way back to 1668 in Germany. That makes it the oldest drug company in the world by far. 

The company began with Friedrich Jacob Merck, who bought a drug store in the town of Darmstadt in Germany. During the 19th century, the company evolved in tremendous ways to go from being a simple drug dispensary to growing into a wide ranging pharmaceutical company. 

Its pioneering product was morphine, which Merck reformulated and dispensed far before other drug companies. In many ways, the company owes its livelihood to this single drug. Merck is built on morphine, though it has of course grown far beyond that one medication.


The Merck family emigrated to the United States in 1891 and set up Merck & Co. in the state of New York. This would become the company’s United States subsidiary, an offshoot of the original company. That’s exactly how it worked until 1917, when the company restructured. At that time, Merck had been taken over by the government of the United States during World War I.

After the war, the company regained its independence. In the years since, it’s undergone a massive series of acquisitions and mergers. Merck now has a huge array of subsidiaries. These include OncoEthix, Organon International, Viralytics, and Peloton Therapeutics. 

Medical Products

Merck makes a wide range of pharmaceutical products. Some of its most prominent include:

  • Singulair
  • Gardasil
  • Zocor
  • Keytruda
  • Fosamax
  • Vioxx
  • Primaxin
  • Propecia
  • Proscar

The company does a great deal of research and development to create new products. It advertises in print, online, and on television. This advertising has led the company into some hot water over the years. From 2002-2005, the company paid an advertiser to run a fake medical journal out of Australia called the Austrialian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine. The company has been accused of an assortment of false advertisements


Merck is well known for its range of medical publications. These reference books for doctors, technicians, veterinarians, and nurses are widely known and well respected. They also happen to do a consummate job of marketing the company’s products in the right places. 

The company’s publications are collectively known as the Merck Manuals. They include The Merck Index, which is a list of chemical compounds and their descriptions, and the Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy. The latter is the best selling medical reference in the world. In 2012, the Merck Index was sold to the Royal Society of Chemistry. 

Despite some bumps in the road, Merck has continued to develop medical products that are ultimately useful and which save lives all over the world.