The German pharmaceutical industry dominated global drug creation from the late nineteenth century to World War I. Most of the industry's products were based on extensive scientific research. However, the research intensity of products varied across companies and intensified over time. A main contribution of this article is thus to identify different groups of firms within the industry and provide an analysis of their product portfolios before 1914. This essay embeds scientific developments in a coevolutionary framework of science, firms, and institutions and shows that the industry's research capabilities were complemented by other important factors for corporate success.