C.R. Bard, Inc. History

730 Central Avenue
Murray Hill, New Jersey 07974-1139

Telephone: (908) 277-8000
Toll Free: 800-367-2273
Fax: (908) 277-8240

Public Company
Incorporated: 1923
Employees: 8,300
Sales: $1.43 billion (2003)
Stock Exchanges: New York
Ticker Symbol: BCR
NAIC: 339112 Surgical and Medical Instrument Manufacturing; 339113 Surgical Appliance and Supplies Manufacturing; 334510 Electromedical and Electrotherapeutic Apparatus Manufacturing

Company Perspectives:

Over our 95-year history, Bard has responded to the needs of clinicians, health care professionals, and patients with strong, market-leading product franchises under a structure based on product expertise and technology. To continue to help customers meet tomorrow's healthcare challenges, Bard is refocusing its efforts and will now provide more specialized support for its products and services. The Bard focus is on specific Disease State Management needs, both diagnostic and interventional, in three key areas: Vascular, Urology and Oncology. In addition, Bard continues to invest in and support its complete line of advanced Surgical Specialty products and services in hernia repair, powered irrigation, and hemostasis. With an emphasis on Disease State Management, Bard focuses its products and services across the spectrum of care--from wellness and disease prevention to early diagnosis and treatment to post-care management. By utilizing a Disease State Management strategy, Bard continues to advance the delivery of health care with technological developments that embody quality, integrity, and service.

Key Dates:

Charles Russell Bard begins U.S. distribution of a urethral catheter developed in Europe.
Bard formally incorporates his business as C.R. Bard, Inc.
Bard sells his company to John Frederick Willits and Edson L. Outwin for $18,000.
Company begins distributing Foley catheters.
Headquarters are moved from New York City to Summit, New Jersey; sales surpass the $1 million mark.
C.R. Bard begins marketing its products in presterilized packages.
Headquarters are shifted to Murray Hill, New Jersey.
Company goes public with a listing on the over-the-counter market.
First in-house manufacturing by Bard.
Company acquires United States Catheter and Instrument.
Bard's stock begins trading on the New York Stock Exchange; 172,000-square-foot plant opens in Murray Hill.
Company gains the sole rights to manufacture and sell the Gruntzig angioplasty catheter.
Davol Inc. is acquired.
C.R. Bard pleads guilty to 391 criminal charges and agrees to pay $61 million in fines in connection with a scandal involving faulty catheters; three former executives are later found guilty of criminal charges connected to the same scandal.
Company sells its coronary catheter laboratory business, including its angioplasty operations.
C.R. Bard agrees to be acquired by Tyco International Ltd. for $3.1 billion.
Drop in Tyco shares leads to a cancellation of the sale to Tyco.

Company History:

C.R. Bard, Inc. is a developer and manufacturer of surgical, medical, diagnostic, and patient-care instruments, concentrating on four main areas: vascular, urology, oncology, and surgical specialty products. Bard markets these products worldwide to hospitals, extended care facilities, and individual healthcare professionals. More than 70 percent of company revenues originate in the United States, 18 percent in Europe, 5 percent in Japan, and the remainder elsewhere. A pioneer in the healthcare industry, Bard developed presterilized instruments and the concept of complete sterilized disposable surgical trays. The company has grown in more recent years by acquiring companies and product lines, entering into licensing agreements and joint ventures, and making investments in companies developing new healthcare technologies.

Early History

C.R. Bard, Inc. was founded by Charles Russell Bard, an American importer of French silks as well as the exclusive distributor of a 19th-century European medicine purported to relieve urinary discomfort. In 1907 Bard began distributing a recently invented urethral catheter for a French firm, J. Eynard, his European connections enabling him to market the catheter in the United States. Bard's involvement with medical products expanded in 1915 when he became partners with Morgan Parker, who had invented a new scalpel. Parker provided the patents, Bard provided office space and $500, and Bard-Parker Co. Inc. was begun.

During World War I, imported scalpels became scarce, and demand for the Bard-Parker scalpel soared. After the war, however, Bard and Parker disagreed over manufacture of the scalpel. While Parker wanted the company to manufacture the instrument, Bard wanted to continue to subcontract for manufacture with a company in Ohio. The two partners could not resolve their differences, and in 1923 Parker bought out Bard's interest in the partnership for $23,000. Bard-Parker later became a division of Becton, Dickinson and Company, a medical instruments manufacturer.

Bard formally incorporated as C.R. Bard, Inc. in 1923, continuing to distribute Eynard catheters and other urological devices. His health failing, however, Bard hired John Frederick Willits as his sales manager. Willits, a former sales manager for a medical book publisher, understood that Bard would eventually turn over the business to him.

Bard kept his word and sold the business to Willits and accountant Edson L. Outwin in 1926 for $18,000. Willits, the older of the two men, became president of the company, and Outwin became vice-president and treasurer. Although Willits and Outwin borrowed the money to buy C.R. Bard, within a year, they were able to repay the loan with profits from the company. Bard became a company consultant until his retirement in 1932. He died in 1934.

Outwin, Willits, and James Vassar, the company's first full-time salesperson, hired by Bard in 1923, visited their sales regions twice a year and were on the road for 12 to 14 weeks at a time. Willits covered the West Coast, Outwin the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic states, and Vassar the rest of the United States and part of Canada. In 1929 the company added another sales representative, Willits's son Harris, to cover the upper Midwest, New York, and Canada. During this time, the four men sold the company's line of urological instruments directly to practicing urologists.

In 1934 Dr. Hobart Belknap, an Oregon doctor and Bard customer, published an article in the Urological Cutaneous Review presenting his idea for a balloon-type instrument to control secondary bleeding in cases in which no suprapubic opening existed. Davol Rubber Co. of Providence, Rhode Island, developed a device based on Belknap's idea. During this time, American Anode, a division of B.F. Goodrich of Akron, Ohio, also developed devices based on Belknap's idea for Dr. Frederick E.B. Foley of St. Paul, Minnesota. Extensive litigation ensued for the patent for the device, until Davol and Goodrich agreed to cross-license each other's product. The generic name for the instrument became the Foley catheter. Because Bard was already the exclusive distributor of Davol's other catheters, it also began distributing the Foley catheters. Sales of Foley catheters took off when Harris Willits discovered that a surgeon in Flint, Michigan, was using the Foley on a routine basis as a retention catheter for postoperative patients.

In 1940 Germany's invasion of France halted all shipments of Eynard instruments from France to C.R. Bard in the United States. Bard added American-made catheters to its line when Norman Jeckel founded the United States Catheter and Instrument Corporation (USCI) to manufacture the first American woven catheter which he had developed. However, when the United States entered World War II in 1941, the U.S. military had first priority for purchase of the USCI catheters, limiting supplies and Bard's ability to meet the demand of civilian customers.

Soaring Postwar Sales

In 1945 Outwin and John Willits switched positions at the company, with Outwin becoming company president and Willits, vice-president. Harris Willits became a member of the board of directors. Furthermore, a 150 percent increase in the company's net sales since 1935 led to the addition of two more sales positions. Net sales increased between 1945 and 1947 as a result of new urological procedures and the increase in the population of urologists and patients.

The soaring sales also necessitated a move to bigger headquarters. Bard commissioned a 5,400-square-foot building to be constructed in Summit, New Jersey, and in March 1948, the company moved there from its Madison Avenue offices. That fiscal year, net sales rose to above the $1 million mark, and 18 employees were added. Bard quickly outgrew its new facility, and, as more space was needed for on-the-premises packaging, Bard purchased the property next door to its facility.

During the 1950s, net sales grew more than 400 percent, and the number of employees increased to 200. Whereas in 1940 more than 85 percent of its products had been imported, by the 1950s the company's products were all made in the United States. During this time, Willits resigned as chairperson, and Outwin took his place. Harris Willits then became Bard's president.

In 1957 Bard introduced its products in presterilized packages. Initially the company sent its packaged goods to an outside laboratory for sterilization. However, packaging was soon sterilized in Bard's own laboratories. The introduction of presterilized products cut down on costs for hospitals and reduced the risk of contamination. The introduction of ready-to-use disposable products led to a contract with Resiflex Laboratory, Inc. to market Resiflex's disposable drainage tubes with the tradename Bardic. Bard also contracted with Deseret Pharmaceutical Company, Inc. to distribute its new intravenous tube tradenamed Bardic-Deseret Intracath. This soft, plastic tube could be placed in the patient's vein for intravenous feeding, eliminating the need to retain a steel needle for feeding.

The decade of the 1960s brought remarkable growth. Net sales increased by $42 million, reaching $51 million in 1969. The number of employees increased from 200 to 2,200. In 1961 the company moved its headquarters to a 50,000-square-foot building in Murray Hill, New Jersey. The company expanded its product line by marketing cardiological, radiological, and anesthesiological products, in addition to urological devices. By 1969, Bard owned 14 plants and was manufacturing 75 percent of the 6,000 products it sold.

Bard became a public company in 1963 when the Outwin family sold their stock on the over-the-counter market. Chairperson Edson Outwin, however, retained his own personal shares, representing a 2.5 percent interest in the company. Outwin remained chairperson until 1966, when he resigned due to ill health. Harris Willits then became chairperson, and Outwin was named chairman emeritus. In 1968 Bard stock began trading on the New York Stock Exchange for the first time.

Bard's thriving international mail-order business led to the formation of two new corporations in 1963. Bard-Davol Inc., located in England and owned equally by C.R. Bard, Inc. and Davol Rubber Inc., began producing surgical and hospital supplies for the United Kingdom. Bard-Davol International, headquartered in Bard's Murray Hill, New Jersey, offices, was re- sponsible for all other export trade. A year later, Bard formed C.R. Bard Limited, headquartered in Toronto, specifically to handle distribution in Canada.

Entering Manufacturing in the Mid-1960s

Bard's first in-house manufacturing began in 1964 with the molding and assembling of medical plastic tubing. Bard began making its own intravenous tubes and disposable surgical masks when Bard's and Deseret's association ended on friendly terms.

Bard bought USCI in 1966 after a 25-year association with this leading producer of urological instruments and cardiovascular products. USCI was a well-respected and innovative company, whose founder, Norman Jeckel, had collaborated with Nobel Prize winner Andre Cournand to develop the first intravenous heart catheter. USCI scientists had also collaborated on the development of artificial arteries and Dacron grafts.

In 1968 the MacBick Company of New England and Lowndes Products Inc. of Easley, South Carolina, also became part of the Bard corporation. MacBick designed and manufactured hospital supplies and equipment, including mobile carts, workstations, and disposable presterilized patient-care items. Lowndes produced underpads, diapers, mattress covers, surgeons' caps and masks, and other products for the medical market.

Once again, Bard found itself in need of more space because of its expanded packaging and in-house sterilization operations. As a result, the company doubled the size of its headquarters and built a 172,000-square-foot manufacturing plant, also in Murray Hill. With the completion of the new plant, the company consolidated all of its New Jersey manufacturing and product assembly operations.

Bard also began manufacturing its own extruded tubing at this plant. By 1982, it was producing 14,000 miles of extruded tubing rather than purchasing it from outside vendors. Bard also expanded by building a 100,000-square-foot plant in Covington, Georgia, to produce Foley drainage trays and clean catch kits.

Pursuing Acquisitions in the 1970s and 1980s

During the 1970s, Bard made several acquisitions as its business rapidly grew. The company acquired Homer Higgs Associates, Inc. of Fairfield, New Jersey, a distributor of convalescent and home-care products, and Burnett Instruments Co., Inc. of Lawrence, Kansas, a manufacturer of disposable instruments, orthopedic and physiotherapy products, and electronic heat and related products for hot compress therapy. LeMoyne & Grant Inc., of Montreal, Canada, which produced mobile stretchers, also became part of Bard during this time. Furthermore, Med-Econ Plastics of California, a maker of disposable plastic respiratory products, was acquired in 1972, as well as Sani-Pac Corp. of New York, manufacturers of bed pads and adult diapers. Two years later, Bard acquired a company that made suction collection instruments, Deaton Medical Co. of Oklahoma.

Acquisitions continued throughout the decade, including American Membrane Corp. of California--which held a license from the federal government to develop a membrane for kidney dialysis--and William Harvey Research Corp. of California, the developer of the disposable bubble oxygenator and cardiotomy used in open-heart surgery. Bard also acquired Medical Device Laboratory, Aerway Laboratories Inc., and MI Systems, Inc. By 1976, Bard was distributing 13,000 products.

In 1979 Bard obtained the sole rights to manufacture and sell the Gruntzig angioplasty catheter. This device, with a small balloon at the tip, could be used to open up artery walls by pressing fatty deposits against the walls. This device and procedure, called angioplasty, became a well-accepted alternative to the more costly and riskier heart bypass surgery. In using the Gruntzig catheter, the surgeon inserted a long wire through the femoral artery near the groin and up through the patient's arteries to the clogged arteries of the heart. A tiny balloon at the end of the wire was then inflated, compressing the fat against the walls of the artery and opening the passage to allow more blood to flow to the heart.

The 1970s brought growth in Bard's international operations as well. Bard entered into joint ventures with companies in Japan and Denmark, and it acquired Brazilian company Rossifil Industria Produtos Plasticos Ltda., a producer of intravenous administration, blood collection, and transfusion sets.

In the late 1970s, Robert H. McCaffrey was elected CEO and George T. Maloney was elected president and chief operating officer. Harris Willits retired from his honorary chair in 1979. He died in 1992.

Bard's growth prompted the company to decentralize in 1980, forming divisions based on product lines, including urological, cardiopulmonary, implants, cardiology and radiology, medsystems, electro/medical, home health divisions, and international divisions. Divisions designed and carried out their own product development, working with medical specialists.

The 1980s brought another healthy growth spurt for Bard. In 1980 Bard continued to expand by purchasing Davol Inc. and Davol International from International Paper Company. This acquisition was significant as Davol manufactured Foley catheters, still Bard's single largest selling product. Bard also acquired Shield Healthcare Management Inc., Catheter Technology Corp. and the assets of Radi Medical Systems AB, all in the early 1980s.

Some acquisitions sent the company in new directions. The purchase of Automated Screening Devices Inc., which produced a blood pressure monitoring system, moved Bard toward more technologically advanced products. Bard also entered the orthopedic implants arena by becoming the sole distributor in the United States and Canada of the orthopedic line of German firm Waldemar Link GmbH & Co.

By the late 1980s, the company operated domestic plants in 12 states and Puerto Rico and plants or offices in several foreign countries, including Canada, Mexico, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, India, Singapore, as well as most countries in Europe and Great Britain. In 1990 McCaffrey retired, and Maloney became president and CEO. Shortly after that, William H. Longfield was named company president.

Catheter Scandal in the Early 1990s

During this time, Bard faced some challenges regarding its coronary balloon angioplasty catheters. In 1990 the company had to temporarily withdraw its catheters from the market, pending approval from the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), after modifications were made to the devices. While catheter sales for that year were virtually nonexistent, Bard reentered the angioplasty market in April 1991.

In the early 1990s, Bard began to focus more carefully on its major markets, selling those divisions incidental to their main focus of development of single-patient-use products for diagnosis and treatment for the urological, cardiovascular, and surgical markets. In 1990 the company sold its Shield Healthcare Centers subsidiary to a subsidiary of Kobayashi Pharmaceutical Co. of Japan and also sold its MedSystems infusion pump division to Baxter International Inc.

In 1992 Bard had net sales of more than $990 million, a 13 percent increase over 1991 sales of $876 million. The company attributed the sales increase in part to its reentrance into the balloon angioplasty market following FDA approval of several of Bard's designs. Furthermore, the company looked forward to a healthy sales increase from the marketing of an implant from Collagen Corp. that would combat urinary incontinence. The product was available in several foreign countries, and FDA approval was pending in the United States in 1992.

Late in 1993 litigation connected with the defective catheters the company had sold from 1987 to 1990 began to play itself out. C.R. Bard pleaded guilty to 391 criminal charges of lying to regulators and illegally altering and marketing catheters, essentially, according to prosecutors, turning patients into human "guinea pigs." Use of the flawed catheters had resulted in scores of emergency surgeries and was linked to two deaths. Prosecutors called the company's actions "a truly egregious example of corporate criminal conduct," and said that Bard had engaged in the illegalities in order to get the catheters to market quickly "to maintain market share and reap huge profits." The company agreed to pay $61 million in fines--the largest such fine ever imposed in an FDA investigation. In October 1993 Maloney and five former Bard executives were indicted for their alleged involvement in the scandal, the charges centering on conspiracy, mail fraud, making false statements, and shipment of adulterated devices. Maloney immediately resigned to concentrate on his defense. He and two other defendants were eventually acquitted, but the other three were found guilty in August 1995, and one year later each was sentenced to 18 months in jail.

Eventually succeeding Maloney in the top position was Longfield, who was named president and CEO in June 1995. Longfield became chairman as well in September 1995. Throughout the mid-1990s, C.R. Bard continued to add to its product lines through acquisitions. Late in 1993 the company acquired Redmond, Washington-based Bainbridge Sciences Inc., developer of diagnostic tests for early detection of prostate, bladder, cervical, and lung cancer. During 1994, when revenues exceeded $1 billion for the first time, Bard bought Angiomed AG, a German maker of specialty healthcare products, such as self-expanding vascular stents (tiny tubular devices used to maintain the opening of veins and arteries). Through a stock swap valued at about $100 million, the company acquired MedChem Products, Inc., of Woburn, Massachusetts, in mid-1995. MedChem specialized in catheters, catheter kits for neonatal and adult intravenous therapy, and other surgical products. In its largest deal yet, Bard paid about $143 million for Impra, Inc. late in 1996. Headquartered in Tempe, Arizona, Impra produced vascular grafts used for blood-vessel replacement surgery.

In 1998 Bard restructured globally along disease-state management lines and also made some divestments. The most significant latter move was the sale of the coronary catheter laboratory business, which included the company's angioplasty operations. This had once been Bard's star performer, but the business never recovered from the early 1990s scandal. Bard sold the business to Arterial Vascular Engineering Inc. for $550 million. The company also sold its diagnostic sciences unit and its intra-aortic balloon-catheter and pump business in 1998 and its cardiopulmonary division the following year. C.R. Bard ended the decade by reporting 1999 profits of $118.1 million on revenues of $1.04 billion.

Early 2000s: Remaining Independent in Wake of Failed Buyout by Tyco

During 2001 Bard acquired Surgical Sense, Inc., maker of the Kugel patch, which was used in the surgical repair of hernias. The biggest news that year, however, came in May when the company agreed to be acquired by Tyco International Ltd. for $3.1 billion in stock. As a midsize player in a consolidating industry, Bard had felt increasing pressure to sell out to a larger rival, and officials believed they needed a larger research-and-development budget to stay competitive. After the deal was delayed later in the year because of Federal Trade Commission concerns about the combined company having too large a piece of the market for urology products, it was killed altogether in February 2002 because of a drop in Tyco shares that coincided with rising concerns about possible accounting irregularities and other potentially scandalous activities at the once-mighty conglomerate.

In the immediate aftermath of the failed Tyco deal, Bard moved ahead with a consolidation of business units that aimed to yield savings of $25 million in annual operating costs. This money would then be plowed back into new product research. In August 2003 Longfield retired, though he remained on the board of directors. Succeeding him as chairman and CEO was Timothy M. Ring, who had been president of the vascular products group. Ring stayed the course, continuing to seek out acquisitions to strengthen existing product lines. For example, in July 2004 the company acquired Onux Medical, Inc., producer of a system used to fixate prosthetic patches in place during hernia surgeries. The acquired system perfectly complemented Bard's market-leading line of hernia surgery patch products. In August 2004 C.R. Bard announced an agreement to sell its line of disposable endoscopes used to diagnose lung and digestive-tract conditions to Conmed Corporation for $80 million.

Principal Subsidiaries: B.C.P. Puerto Rico, Inc.; BCR, Inc.; Bard Access Systems, Inc.; Bard ASDI, Inc.; Bard Canada Inc.; Bard Cardiopulmonary, Inc.; Bard Devices, Inc.; Bard Healthcare, Inc.; Bard Holdings Limited (U.K.); Bard Implants, Inc.; Bard International, Inc.; Bard Shannon Limited (Ireland); Dymax Corporation; EndoMatrix; IMPRA, Inc.; MedChem Products, Inc.; Navarre Biomedical, Ltd.; Productos Bard de Mexico S.A. de C.V.; Productos Para el Cuidada de la Salud, S.A. de C.V. (Mexico); ProSeed, Inc.; Roberts Laboratories, Inc.; Shield Healthcare Centers, Inc.

Principal Competitors: Baxter International Inc.; Becton, Dickinson and Company; Johnson & Johnson; Abbott Laboratories; United States Surgical Corporation; Guidant Corporation; St. Jude Medical, Inc.

Further Reading:

  • Bailey, Maureen, "Poetry in Catheters?," Barron's, April 21, 1980, p. 54.
  • Bard World, Volume 2, Number 4, 75th Anniversary Edition, Murray Hill, N.J.: C.R. Bard, Inc., 1982.
  • Bulkeley, William M., "Former Executives of Bard Receive 18 Months in Jail," Wall Street Journal, August 9, 1996, p. B2.
  • Carton, Barbara, "Bard Ex-Officials Are Found Guilty in Catheter Case," Wall Street Journal, August 25, 1995, p. B2.
  • Cochran, Thomas N., "Redoubtable Bard: It Has Its Own Special Rx for Success," Barron's, December 7, 1987, pp. 15+.
  • Diller, Wendy, "More FDA Woe for Bard: Angioplasty Catheter Is Taken Off Market," Northern New Jersey Record, February 21, 1990, p. E1.
  • Dodge, Catherine, "Bard Calls Off Deal After Drop in Tyco Shares," Bergen County (N.J.) Record, February 7, 2002, p. B1.
  • Kennedy, John H., and Matthew Brelis, "Firm Admits Guilt in Flawed Catheters," Boston Globe, October 16, 1993.
  • Kindel, Stephen, "A Deadly Probe," Financial World, December 11, 1990, pp. 52-4.
  • Maremont, Mark, and Nikhil Deogun, "Tyco Is Near Deal to Acquire C.R. Bard, Medical-Products Maker, for $3.1 Billion," Wall Street Journal, May 30, 2001, p. A3.
  • McCoy, Frank, "Can a 'Microprobe' Get Bard's Blood Pumping?," Business Week, February 15, 1988, pp. 98F+.
  • Silverman, Ed, and David Schwab, "Tyco Buying C.R. Bard for $3.2B," Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger, May 31, 2001, p. 55.
  • Tanouye, Elyse, and George Anders, "C.R. Bard Chairman and Five Others Are Indicted in Heart-Catheter Scandal," Wall Street Journal, October 18, 1993, p. A3.
  • Todd, Susan, "Bard Marches On," Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger, April 25, 2002, p. 31.
  • ------, "C.R. Bard Appoints Chief Executive Officer," Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger, February 14, 2003, p. 48.
  • Twitchell, Evelyn Ellison, "Sweet New Song: A Broken Engagement Leaves Bard Strong," Barron's, February 18, 2002, p. T8.
  • Weiss, Gary, "Despite a Tough Blow, Bard Is Up and Swinging," Business Week, November 19, 1990, p. 128.
  • Wyatt, Edward A., "You Gotta Have Heart: Bard Strives to Bounce Back from a Rough Patch," Barron's, February 12, 1990, p. 22.

Source: International Directory of Company Histories, Vol. 65. St. James Press, 2004.