History Timeline

A Tradition of Innovation

More than 120 years ago, 30-year-old Dr. Wallace C. Abbott, a practicing physician and pharmacy proprietor, founded the company that bears his name. Using the active part of a medicinal plant, known as the "alkaloid," he formed tiny pills, called "dosimetric granules," which provided more accurate and effective dosing for his patients than other treatments available at the time. The demand for these accurate granules soon far exceeded the needs of his own practice and, from these modest origins, was born Abbott, one of the world's most broad-based health care companies and a global leader in the discovery, development and manufacture of products that span the continuum of care.


1888-1900  | 1900s |  1910s |  1920s |  1930s | 1940s | 1950s |  1960s |  1970s |  1980s |  1990s |  2000s |  2010s




1888: Seeking better and more accurate medications for his patients, Wallace C. Abbott, M.D., begins producing dosimetric granules in the apartment above his People's Drug Store on Chicago's North Side. First-year sales are $2,000.

Dr. Abbott


1894: Dr. Abbott acquires, and becomes editor of, the medical journal The Alkaloidal Clinic.

Abbott Alkaloidal Corporate Charter




1900: The business is officially incorporated in Illinois as the Abbott Alkaloidal Company.

Abbott Incorporation


1906: The company's first sales force – composed of seven "Abbott missionaries" – is formed.

Abbott Missionaries Driving




1910: There are more than 700 products in the Abbott catalogue. The company expands with branches in New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Toronto, a European agency in London, and business in India.


1915: The Abbott Alkaloidal Company's name is changed to Abbott Laboratories to reflect the company's growing research orientation and move to synthetic compounds.


1916: Abbott's antiseptic agent Chlorazene is used to clean wounds on the battlefields of World War I.

Chlorazene Antiseptic




1920: Dr. Abbott breaks ground for a new manufacturing facility in North Chicago, Illinois. This location will serve as the company's headquarters for more than 40 years.

Dr. Abbott breaks ground


1921: Dr. Abbott dies in July, and Dr. Alfred Stephen Burdick is named president of the company.

Dr. Alfred Stephen Burdick


1923: The development of Butyn, a butyl alcohol-based anesthetic, marks the beginning of Abbott's long, productive and groundbreaking involvement in anesthesia.



1929: Abbott stock is listed on the Chicago Stock Exchange. The offering is 20,000 shares for $32 each.

Abbott stock




1930: The anesthetic Nembutal is introduced and goes on to become one of the company's best-known and longest-lived products.


1931: Abbott's first international affiliate is established in Montreal, Canada.


1932: Abbott enters the field of nutrition with Haliver Oil and Viosterol, making it a leader in the new field of vitamins and beginning its leadership in the nutrition business.

Haliver products


1936: The anesthetic agent Pentothal is introduced. Fifty years later its developers, Abbott scientists Drs. Ernest Volwiler and Donalee Tabern, are named to the U.S. Inventors Hall of Fame for their discovery of the compound. The company is among the pioneers of the I.V. business, supplying hospitals with bulk intravenous solutions.



1938: Abbott celebrates its 50th anniversary with the dedication of a new, state-of-the-art research center in North Chicago.

NC research center 1938




1941: Abbott is one of the five pioneers enlisted by the U.S. government to develop large-scale production of the new anti-infective penicillin.

Penicillin Production


1945: Tridione, the first of many Abbott medications for the treatment of epilepsy, is introduced.


1946: Abbott is the first pharmaceutical company to have a special laboratory for radiopharmaceuticals – a move that leads to the creation of what will become the world's leading immunodiagnostics business.




1952: Erythrocin, a new antibiotic with good activity against gram-positive bacteria, is introduced and anchors the company's pharmaceutical business for many years to come.



1953: Abbott's radiopharmaceutical business introduces Radiocaps, capsules containing an accurately controlled, invisible and un-weighable film of radioiodine that simplifies the diagnosis and treatment of thyroid disorders.

Radiocaps introduced


1959: A new corporate brand is introduced, which features a stylized "a" symbol that, in updated form, is still in use today.

New Abbott Logo




1962: Abbott enters the Japanese market through a joint venture with Dainippon Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., to manufacture radiopharmaceuticals.


1963: The Triosorb diagnostic test kit no longer requires a patient to swallow a radioactive substance; rather, a blood sample is inoculated with a radioactive form of thyroid hormone.


1964: Abbott acquires M&R Dietetic Laboratories of Columbus, Ohio, best known as makers of Similac, one of the first milk-based infant formulas.



1965: The company's global growth warrants a new headquarters. Major operations are moved to Abbott Park, a 420-acre site southwest of its North Chicago headquarters.




1972: The launch of Ausria, a radioimmunoassay test to detect serum hepatitis, marks the beginning of Abbott's world-leading immunodiagnostics business.

Radioimmunoassay Serum Hepatitis Test


1973: The global Abbott Diagnostics Division is formed to bring together the company's diagnostic products and services. Ensure, Abbott's first adult medical nutritional, is introduced.



1977: TAP Pharmaceuticals, one of the most successful joint-venture companies ever, is formed between Abbott and Takeda Chemical Industries, Ltd., of Japan.




1981: The TDx therapeutic drug monitoring system is introduced.


1983: Depakote (divalproex sodium), a new treatment for epilepsy, is approved in the United States.

Depakote important safety information
Depakote prescribing Information

1985: Abbott launches the world's first HIV antibody assay.


1987: Hytrin (terazosin hydrochloride), receives U.S. FDA approval.

Hytrin important safety information
Hytrin prescribing Information


1988: Abbott celebrates its centennial. The IMx immunoassay system is introduced and goes on to become one of the best-selling products in the company's history.

IMx Immunoassay System




1990: Biaxin (clarithromycin), new macrolide antibiotic.

Biaxin important safety information
Biaxin prescribing Information



1991: The company enters the hematology testing market with the acquisition of Sequoia-Turner Corp.


1993: AxSYM, a new labor-saving diagnostic system, is launched.

AxSym logo


1994: Sevoflurane, an inhalation is introduced.

Sevoflurane important safety information
Sevoflurane prescribing Information


1995: TAP receives approval for PREVACID, a proton pump inhibitor used in treating ulcers, which goes on to become a top-five drug. ABBOTT PRISM, the first fully-automated high-volume blood analyzer, is introduced.



1996: Norvir (ritonavir ), one of the first protease inhibitor drugs indicated in combination with other antiretroviral agents for the treatment of HIV, is launched. The acquisition of MediSense, Inc. marks the company's entrance into glucose monitoring for people with diabetes.

MediSense Precision Xtra


1998: Glucerna shakes and snack bars, nutritional products specifically formulated for people with diabetes, are launched.



1999: ARCHITECT, a next-generation diagnostic system, is launched. Perclose, Inc., a leading vascular closure devices company, is acquired, marking the company's entry into vascular care.





2000: Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir), a next-generation treatment used in combination with other antiiretovirol agents for HIV, is approved.

Kaletra important safety information
Kaletra prescribing Information


2001: Abbott acquires the pharmaceutical business of BASF, including the global operations of Knoll Pharmaceuticals, expanding the company's global scope and biotech capabilities. Vysis, Inc., a leading genomic disease management company, is acquired to strengthen Abbott's position in the molecular diagnostics market. The Vysis UroVysion molecular test to monitor for recurrent bladder cancer is approved.

Vysis UroVysion

2002: FDA approval is received for HUMIRA (adalimumab), for moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis, the first of six disease indications it will receive en route to becoming Abbott's most successful product ever. The cardiovascular stent business of Biocompatibles International, plc. is acquired.

HUMIRA important safety information
HUMIRA prescribing Information

Humira Pen


2003: Abbott acquires JOMED's coronary and peripheral intervention business lines, and enters the healthy-living nutrition category with ZonePerfect Nutritional Co.

ZonePerfect logo


2004: Abbott Diabetes Care is created with the acquisition of TheraSense Inc., a leading blood glucose monitoring business. The diagnostics portfolio is expanded with the addition of i-STAT Corp., a maker of point-of-care diagnostic technologies. Abbott also acquires EAS Inc., a leader in performance nutrition products. The company's hospital products business becomes Hospira, an independent, publicly traded company and one of the largest global specialty pharmaceutical and medication delivery companies serving the hospital market.



2006: Abbott acquires the vascular business of Guidant Inc., a leader in coronary and vascular products, and Kos Pharmaceuticals, a specialty pharmaceutical company with a significant lipid management portfolio. The drug eluting stent, XIENCE V, is launched outside the United States.

Xience V


2009: Abbott acquires Ibis Biosciences, a provider of leading-edge technology in diagnostic testing and surveillance; Advanced Medical Optics, an established global leader in vision care; Visiogen, Inc., a leader in next-generation cataract technology; and Evalve, Inc., the global leader in the development of devices for minimally invasive repair of cardiac mitral valves.




2010: Abbott acquires Solvay Pharmaceuticals, the global pharmaceutical business of the Solvay Group; STARLIMS Technologies, a leader in laboratory information management systems; Facet Biotech Corporation, a noted biotechnology products developer in the areas of immunology and oncology; and the Healthcare Solutions business of India’s Piramal Healthcare Ltd., a leading branded generics company, which makes it the largest pharmaceutical company in India. To focus on its growing position in emerging markets, Abbott also creates the Established Pharmaceuticals Division.

Solvay Group

2011: Abbott receives European approval of Absorb, the world's first drug-eluting bioresorbable vascular scaffold for the treatment of coronary artery disease. Abbott announces that it will separate into two leading healthcare companies - a diversified medical products company and a new, researched-based pharmaceutical company - by the end of 2012.