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Technology Transfer in the Interwar U.S. Pharmaceutical Sector: The Case of E. Merck of Darmstadt and Merck & Co., Rahway, New Jersey



This is a case study of the U.S. pharmaceutical producer, Merck & Co. By 1940 this was one of the leading pharmaceutical producers in the United States, and the company went on to become one of the global industry leaders after World War II. It was founded in 1891 as the U.S. subsidiary of a much larger German pharmaceutical company, E. Merck of Darmstadt. The existing understanding of Merck & Co.’s history emphasizes how it was reacquired by the American branch of the Merck family after wartime sequestration, and from then onward it pursued a path of development separate from its former parent. This article revisits that history of the company and shows how the two Mercks began to cooperate and share technology and manufacturing know-how during the 1930s, something that was particularly to the advantage of Merck & Co.



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