|Searle (G. D.) & Co.
This company was founded by Gideon D. Searle, a Civil War veteran, and Indiana drug store owner Frank Hereth, who had formerly worked as chief chemist of Eli Lilly & Co., the Indiana pharmaceutical company. At the beginning of the 1890s, Searle and Hereth moved their operation from Omaha, Nebraska, to Chicago's North Side. After Searle died in 1917, the company was led by his son C. Howard Searle; family members continued to manage the company for several decades. Searle, which bought an old Abbott Laboratories plant in Chicago's Ravenswood neighborhood in 1925, moved its operations to nearby Skokie in 1942. By 1950, the company's annual sales were nearly $20 million; among its best-selling products was Dramamine, a drug used to counter motion sickness. In 1960, Searle became the first American company to sell an oral contraceptive, which it marketed under the “Enovid” brand name. Searle grew rapidly during the 1960s. By the middle of the 1970s, annual sales had risen to $700 million, and the company employed about 4,500 people in the Chicago area. In 1981, after an extended controversy between Searle and the Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. government approved the sale of a new artificial sweetener, aspartame, which Searle sold under the “NutraSweet” brand name. In 1985, the company was acquired by the Monsanto Co., a chemical producer based in St. Louis. Searle, which retained considerable autonomy, continued to reside in Skokie. Searle's longtime Chicago history began to fade in 2000 when Monsanto was acquired by New Jersey–based Pharmacia & Upjohn Inc. Upjohn maintained Searle's research, development, and manufacturing plant in Skokie but closed the headquarters. New York pharmaceutical giant Pfizer purchased Pharmacia in 2003 and announced it would close Searle's Skokie plant, thereby laying off its 1,500 employees.
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