Dade Behring Holdings Inc. History

Address:
1717 Deerfield Road
Deerfield, Illinois 60015
U.S.A.

Telephone: (847) 267-5300
Fax: (847) 267-1066

Website:
Public Company
Founded: 1904 as Behringwerke
Employees: 6,000
Sales: $1.6 billion (2004 est.)
Stock Exchanges: NASDAQ
Ticker Symbol: DADE
NAIC: 339112 Surgical and Medical Instrument Manufacturing; 339111 Laboratory Apparatus and Furniture Manufacturing; 334516 Analytical Laboratory Instrument Manufacturing

Company Perspectives:

Dade Behring Holdings Inc. is the world's largest company dedicated solely to clinical diagnostics. We are a leading manufacturer and distributor of in-vitro diagnostics (IVD) products and services to clinical laboratories in the United States.

Key Dates:

1878:
Emil Behring earns a medical degree from Army Medical College in Berlin.
1888:
Dr. Behring begins working with Robert Koch and Shibasaburo Kitasato.
1891:
The first human is given Behring's diphtheria vaccine.
1892:
Behring's diphtheria vaccine is marketed commercially.
1901:
The first Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine is awarded to Behring and the "von" is added to his surname.
1904:
Behringwerke is established in Marburg, Germany.
1913:
The first long-lasting diphtheria vaccine is marketed by Behringwerke.
1935:
Behringwerke introduces diagnostic products to the commercial medical market.
1994:
Investors buy Baxter International's diagnostics division and Dade medical supply products to form Dade International.
1995:
Hoechst AG spins off Behring Diagnostics as an independent company.
1997:
Behring Diagnostics and Dade International merge to become Dade Behring.
2002:
Dade Behring reorganizes under Chapter 11 and becomes a public company, Dade Behring Corporation.
2003:
The company begins selling shares on the NASDAQ.
2004:
Dade Behring celebrates its centennial.
2005:
The company's customer base reaches 25,000 worldwide.

Company History:

Although little known outside its industry, Dade Behring Holdings Inc. is a powerhouse in the medical field. The company designs and manufactures a number of clinical diagnostics tools and equipment and has sales of approximately $1.6 billion annually. Headquartered in Deerfield, Illinois, Dade Behring is especially regarded for its life-saving testing materials for in-vitro and other blood disorders. Though the company filed for bankruptcy protection in 2002, Dade Behring emerged from restructuring quickly, went public on the NASDAQ, and has posted strong earnings ever since.

In the Beginning: 1850s to 1899

Emil Adolf Behring was born in March 1854 in the city of Hansdorf, in Eylau, Prussia (later Germany). He was the eldest son of his schoolmaster father's second marriage. With 12 siblings, money was tight in the Behring household and Emil was forced to leave his college studies and enroll at the Army Medical College in Berlin in 1874. Emil earned his medical degree in 1878, passed his state exams in 1880, and was sent to Poland to fulfill his military service. While in Poland, Emil began studying infectious diseases such as sepsis and the antiseptic qualities of iodine and related compounds. The young doctor began writing about his research and his earliest findings, "The Practical Goals of Blood Serum Therapy," appeared in print in 1882.

The German military paired Emil with pharmacologist Carl Binz (1832-1913) in Bonn, Germany, in the middle 1880s. By 1888 Behring was sent back to Berlin as an assistant at the Institute of Hygiene where he worked with famed bacteriologist Robert Koch (1843-1910), who had been the first to prove that infectious diseases were caused by microorganisms or pathogens. Japanese researcher Shibasaburo Kitasato (1852-1931) was also in Berlin, studying with Koch, and he and Behring carried out numerous experiments to understand how healthy hosts fought off disease. During the course of this research, Behring and Shibasaburo injected healthy animals (usually guinea pigs, rabbits, or dogs) with the tetanus-infected blood of others. The healthy animals then developed "antibodies" (a term coined by Behring and Shibasaburo) to tetanus, fighting off the infection with what was called "passive immunity." The two published their findings in the German Medical Weekly (Deutschen Medizinischen Wochenschrift) and were propelled to the forefront of the immunology and serology research field.

In 1890 Koch moved to the Institute for Infectious Diseases and Behring followed. There Behring worked alongside though not peacefully with Paul Ehrlich (1854-1915). By the end of 1891 Behring had used his knowledge of antitoxins to develop a vaccine for diphtheria, successfully tested on animals, and refined for use with humans. The antitoxin, simply called "T.A.," was first marketed commercially in 1892. The following year Behring published the first edition of his Collected Papers (Gesammelte Abhandlungen), and in 1894 was named Professor of Hygiene at the University of Halle-Wittenburg. He left Halle in 1985 when he was appointed chair of the Hygienics Department at the medical school of the University of Marburg, and married in 1896. The professor and his bride, who was 24 years his junior, had seven children.

An Emerging Field: 1900-50s

By the dawn of the 20th century, Behring continued to research a long-term vaccination for diphtheria but had also turned his attention to tuberculosis. The next year, 1901, Behring was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine, the first such award devoted to advances in medicine for his serum and immunology work. In addition, he was given a large cash sum and "von" was added to his name, signifying his ascension in class and rank. In 1904 von Behring published "The Etiology and Etiological Therapy of Tetanus," and was himself stricken with the disease. He had been working with a company called Höchster Farbwerke (which later became Hoechst AG), and in 1904 the firm split and its Marburg labs were taken over by von Behring and renamed Behringwerke.

The doctor/scientist divided his time between his laboratories and his duties at the University of Marburg. In 1913 von Behring produced a long-lasting diphtheria vaccine and turned his considerable skills to eradicating cholera and gangrene. In 1915 von Behring published another edition of his Collected Papers, filled with notes and articles related to his lifelong research into battling infectious disease. Two years later, in March 1917, after numerous awards and honorary titles, Emil von Behring died in Marburg, Germany.

Behringwerke reaped the benefits of its founder's tireless research into diphtheria, tetanus, tuberculosis, and other infectious diseases. Considered the father of modern immunology and serology, Dr. von Behring led the company to numerous medical breakthroughs. After von Behring's death, however, the company continued his work, though in a different manner: instead of the development of actual serums and vaccines, the firm produced equipment and products for hospitals and labs to process blood and tissue samples to determine the presence of infectious diseases. By 1935 Behringwerke introduced its first commercial diagnostics products, all of which were well received by the medical community. Within a decade the company had become a leader in the emerging field of medical diagnostics.

Near the end of the 1940s as Behringwerke widened its range of diagnostics products and began working with plasma, Dr. John Elliott founded the Dade Reagents Company to provide consistent, high quality typing and testing of blood. Dr. Elliott had been director of the Dade County Blood Bank in Florida, where hundreds of thousands of blood samples were grouped, typed, tested for various diseases, and stored for future use. Dade Reagents Company was acquired by the Illinois-based American Hospital Supply Corporation in 1956, which wanted to expand into the burgeoning international diagnostics field.

Mergers and Acquisitions: 1960s-90s

In the 1960s and 1970s Behringwerke introduced a widening array of diagnostics products and instruments, as did competitors such as the E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company and MicroScan Inc. American Hospital Supply bought MicroScan in 1980, and in 1985 medical conglomerate Baxter International acquired American Hospital Supply and its Dade and MicroScan product lines. Less than a decade later, a group of investors bought Baxter's diagnostics unit for over $440 million, creating a private, independent company named Dade International in late 1994. The new firm became the world's largest company devoted to diagnostics, with sales of over $500 million.

While the ink was barely dry on the creation of Dade International, a company bearing Dr. von Behring's name was spun off from Hoechst AG (which later became Aventis) and rechristened Behring Diagnostics in 1995. Soon after its formation, the company acquired a drug-testing firm called Syva Company and then the well known diagnostics and clinical chemistry division of du Pont in 1996. The next year, 1997, saw the merger of Behring Diagnostics and Dade International to become Dade Behring. The combined operations of the two companies reached sales of $1.2 billion and employed a workforce of 6,400 worldwide.

For the remainder of the 1990s Dade Behring continued to do what it did best: develop and market new testing products and procedures for the diagnostics community. The company remained a leader for testing blood, tissue, and urine but had become overburdened with debt. As Dade Behring approached the 21st century, the company's products remained in top form but were threatened as its financial health spiraled out of control. During this time of uncertainty, a new president and chief operations officer, James Reid-Anderson, stepped in to run the company. Reid-Anderson had joined the company in 1996 as executive vice-president and chief financial officer.

A New Century and New Company, the 2000s

As the millennium began for Dade Behring, the company sustained a long line of medical firsts, introducing faster and more comprehensive testing procedures for a growing range of infectious diseases and health disorders. Revenues in 2000 had now retreated to $1.1 billion and the firm was drowning in debt, leading to Chapter 11 filing by 2002. Remarkably, all creditors signed on for the reorganization and Dade Behring emerged from Chapter 11 protection as the newly public Dade Behring Corporation in 2003. Dade Behring traded on the NASDAQ under the ticker symbol DADE and soon amazed investors and creditors with strong sales and renewed vigor in the diagnostics industry.

By the end of 2003 Dade Behring's recovery had been nothing less than spectacular with sales topping $1.4 billion. While Dade Behring ranked sixth among the world's largest clinical diagnostics firms, it was an international leader in IVD or in-vitro diagnostics testing of bodily fluids. The worldwide IVD industry, which consisted of supplies and equipment for healthcare facilities such as labs and hospitals, had reached more than $20 billion by the early 2000s and Dade Behring had secured a sizable share of the market, with plans for more.

By 2004 Dade Behring continued to defy its critics, exceeding expectations and becoming the poster child for Chapter 11 reorganization with revenues of $1.6 billion and net income of $80 million. The firm's four core product lines--chemistry and immunology, hemostasis, microbiology, and infectious disease diagnostics--maintained solid sales and earnings but increased year over year since its bankruptcy filing. The firm employed more than 6,000 workers by 2005 and had operations in 43 countries to serve more than 25,000 medical customers.

Principal Subsidiaries: Dade Behring AB; Dade Behring GmbH; Dade Behring Materials; MicroScan Inc.

Principal Competitors: Abbott Laboratories; Diagnostic Products Corporation; Johnson & Johnson; Roche Holding Ltd.

Further Reading:

  • Brennan, Terry, "Dade Behring Confirmed," Daily Deal, September 19, 2002.
  • "Deerfield, Ill.-Based Medical-Test Maker Fix Cuts Debt, Sets Public Trading," Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, October 4, 2002.
  • Herman, Armin, and Kolbe Jurgeo, German Nobel Prize Winners, Munich, Germany: Heinz Moos Verlagsgellsachaft, 1968.
  • Holman, Kelly, "Dade Behring Sponsors Largely Unhurt," Daily Deal, August 3, 2002.
  • Japsen, Bruce, "Deerfield, Ill.-Based Medical Test Maker to Reorganize Under Chapter 11 Filing," Chicago Tribune, August 2, 2002.
  • Klein, Sarah, "Dade Behring Looks to Expand Lab-Test Niche," Crain's Chicago Business, June 16, 2003, p. 22.
  • ------, "Illinois Companies' Earnings Pop," Crain's Chicago Business, August 16, 2004, p. 4.
  • Nobel Lectures, Physiology or Medicine 1901-1921, Amsterdam: Elsevier Publishing Company, 1967.
  • Sikora, Michael, "Private Equity Firms Probe for Hidden Corporate Gems," Mergers & Acquisitions, June 2000, p. 42.
  • Somasundaram, Meera, "40 Under 40," Crain's Chicago Business, November 1, 1999, p. E22.

Source: International Directory of Company Histories, Vol. 71. St. James Press, 2005.

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