Pfizer was founded in 1849 as a fine chemical manufacturer by the cousins Charles Pfizer and Charles Erhart under the name Charles Pfizer and Company.
The company’s first success was an antiparasitic called santonin. However, its growth really started when it started producing citric acid in the 1880s.
Penicillin became inexpensive in the 1940s and the company began to look for new antibiotics with higher profit potential. Pfizer’s discovery of Terramycin in 1950 put the company on the path to being a research-based pharmaceutical company.
In 1980 Pfizer launched Fedene, an anti-inflammatory that became its first product to reach $1 billion in sales.
In the 1980s and 1990s Pfizer had a period of growth, with the resulting discoveries of Zoloft, Lipitor, Norvasc, Zithromax, Aricept, Diflucan, and Viagra.
In 2006 Pfizer sold its Consumer Healthcare unit for $16.6 billion to Johnson & Johnson.
Today Pfizer is one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies in the world by revenue. Pfizer is part of the Dow 30 and the S&P 500, has 91,500 employees, and had $58.98 billion in revenue in 2012.