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Parke-Davis is a subsidiary of the pharmaceutical company Pfizer. Although no longer an independent corporation, it was once America's oldest and largest drug maker,[1] and played an important role in medical history.

Parke-Davis originally was founded in Detroit, Michigan by Hervey Parke and George Davis in 1886. It was once the world's largest pharmaceutical company, and is credited with building the first modern pharmaceutical laboratory and developing the first systematic methods of performing clinical trials of new medications. Parke-Davis was acquired by Warner-Lambert in 1970, which in turn was bought by Pfizer in 2000.

One of Parke-Davis' early products was an amylase isolated from Aspergillus oryzae by Dr. Jokichi Takamine.[2] The enzyme was originally intended for use in distilleries, but was more successfully marketed as "Taka-diastase" for dyspepsia. They also develop Ketalar (Ketamine Hydrochlorides), an aneasthesian for horses, and dissociative drug in 1962.

Another of the company's products developed by Takamine was a pure form of adrenaline. The compound was patented in 1900 and trademarked as "Adrenalin". Because of the similarity of this name to "Adrenaline", the use of the alternative name "epinephrine" for generics was mandated in the United States and is used to this day. A lawsuit filed by H.K. Mulford challenged the patent on the grounds that it was a natural product and therefore unpatentable. The ruling in favor of Parke-Davis by judge Learned Hand is considered crucial to modern patent law.

Before its criminalization, Parke-Davis sold cocaine in various forms, including cigarettes, powder, and even a cocaine mixture that could be injected directly into the user’s veins with the included needle. The company promised that its cocaine products would “supply the place of food, make the coward brave, the silent eloquent and ... render the sufferer insensitive to pain.

Phencyclidine (PCP) was first patented in the 1950s by the Parke-Davis pharmaceutical company. PCP is listed as a Schedule II drug in the United States under the Convention on Psychotropic Substances.

Parke-Davis marketed the first widely available epilepsy treatment, Dilantin, which was approved in 1939, although it discovered neither the compound nor the application on its own.[3]

The first bacterial vaccine was developed by Parke-Davis, and the company was thus known as a pioneer in the field of Vaccinology. It was also among the five firms contracted to manufacture the Salk vaccine used to eradicate polio[4] A combination of the DPT and polio vaccines, called Quadrigen, was developed in 1954 and approved in 1959. Quadrigen was later removed from the market in 1968 after a series of lawsuits pertaining to adverse effects in vaccinated children.

Other products popularized by the company included anti-infectives and brands of combined oral contraceptive pills.

Modern Events

In the case of Franklin v. Parke-Davis (2002) the company was accused of illegal marketing practices, including the promotion of off-label uses of its anticonvulsant medication Neurontin.[5] The drug had only been approved for use in patients with epilepsy, but in 2001 over 80% of its $1.8 billion in sales were for indications unapproved by the FDA. In 2004, Pfizer "admitted that Parke-Davis aggressively marketed Neurontin by illicit means for unrelated conditions including bipolar disorder, pain, migraine headaches, and drug and alcohol withdrawal", and consented to $430 million dollars in penalties although it claimed the violations originated in 1996, well before Pfizer's acquisition of Warner-Lambert.[6]

As announced on January 22, 2007, Pfizer closed its research facilities in Ann Arbor, MI.[7]


Actor Calvert DeForest, who appeared multiple times with David Letterman, worked for the company for many years.


  1. ^ Exploring Our History: 2000 - Pfizer acquires Warner-Lambert. from Pfizer corporate website. Accessed May 19, 2006.
  2. ^ Bennett, Joan and Yamomoto, Yutaka. Dr. Jokichi Takamine: Japanese father of American Biotechnology. Deerland Enzymes.
  3. ^ A Flaw in the System. Accessed May 16, 2006.
  4. ^ Bayly, M. Beddow. The Story of the Salk Anti-Poliomyelitis Vaccine. 1956.
  5. ^ Suit: Neurontin Marketed Illegally for Bipolar Disorder. May 16, 2004.
  6. ^ Huge penalty in drug fraud Pfizer settles felony case in Neurontin off-label promotion. San Francisco Chronicle. Friday, May 14, 2004.
  7. ^ At Pfizer, Brutal Cuts And Big Changes
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Parke-Davis". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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