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Hoffmann-La Roche

From Academic Kids

Hoffmann-La Roche, Ltd. is a Swiss pharmaceutical company which operates world-wide. It belongs to the Roche Holding AG. The headquarters are located in Basel.

Founded in 1896 by Fritz Hoffmann-La Roche, the company was early on known for producing various vitamin preparations and derivatives. In 1957 it introduced the class of tranquilizers known as benzodiazepines (with Valium and Rohypnol being the best known members). Its acne drug isotretinoin marketed as Accutane® and Roaccutane® is a market leader in treating severe acne. It has also produced various HIV tests and antiretroviral drugs. It bought the patents for the important polymerase chain reaction technique in 1992. It manufactures several cancer drugs.

In 1976, an accident at a chemical factory in Seveso (Italy) owned by a subsidiary of Roche caused a large dioxin contamination; see Seveso disaster.

The company is world-wide market leader in vitamins, with a market share of 40% in 1999. Between 1990 and 1999, the company participated in an illegal price fixing cartel for vitamins. Other members of the cartel were BASF and Rhone-Poulenc SA. In 1999, Roche plead guilty in the U.S. and paid a $500 million fine, then the largest fine ever secured in the U.S. The European Commission fined Roche 462 million euros for the same infraction in 2001, also a record fine at the time.

Roche Holding AG is publicly traded over-the-counter through the pink sheets with stock symbol RHHBF.PK. Its revenues during fiscal year 2002 were $9400 million, ranking 13th amongst the pharmaceutical companies of the world.

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