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Bristol-Myers in Syracuse, New York

bristol myers

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Bristol-Myers Squibb is a multinational pharmaceutical corporation with operations throughout the world. It distributes products to healthcare providers and hospitals in 100 countries.

Company History

Bristol-Myers Squibb is composed of four core businesses: consumer products, pharmaceuticals, nutritional products, and medical devices. It was founded in 1887 by two fraternity brothers, John Ripley Myers and William McLaren Bristol, who invested $5,000 each in a failing drug manufacturer in Clinton, New York. The company relocated from Clinton to Syracuse in 1889 for better access to shipping. With little understanding of drug manufacturing, the company had a few difficult early years, selling medical preparations to local dentists and doctors.

During World War II, it mass produced penicillin for the Allied forces after mastering the process of fermentation to produce acidophilus milk, a primary product in its line. The company grew and acquired select smaller companies in growing industries including Clairol and Mead Johnson. Clairol’s attractive ad became iconic: “Only her hairdresser knows for sure.”

In the over-the-counter drug market, Bristol-Myers manufactured Excedrin and Bufferin. It merged with Squibb Corporation, one of the oldest pharmaceutical companies in the nation, in 1989 and became known as Bristol-Myers Squibb.

The Penicillin Plant in Syracuse, NY

Bristol-Myers broke ground for a new plant in Syracuse in 1943, becoming a major supplier of penicillin for the Allied Forces. During subsequent years the company enlarged its facilities and manufactured antibiotics including tetracycline and streptomycin. The company discovered the use of isoniazid for tuberculosis and won the prestigious Lasker Award in 1955.

Current operations at Syracuse include development of biologics manufacturing processes and medicines for commercial and clinical trial use.

Asbestos at Bristol-Myers in Syracuse

Although asbestos was not utilized in its products, the Bristol-Meyers plants exposed workers to asbestos from equipment and materials including pumps, boilers, tanks, insulation, valves, gaskets, packing, ovens, and laboratory equipment. Companies that sold asbestos to Bristol-Myers never warned workers of its dangers.

If you worked at Bristol-Myers Squibb in Syracuse, you were likely exposed to asbestos from the repair and renovation of equipment.

Asbestos-related Diseases

Several diseases are associated with asbestos exposure. Mesothelioma is a rare cancer exclusively caused by asbestos exposure. Mesothelioma tumors develop in the tissue that covers the outside of the lung or abdomen. Tumoral growth restricts the ability of the patient to fully inhale and exhale, depriving them of oxygen to serve the vital organs and tissues of the body. Eventually, breathing becomes more difficult and death may ocurre within a year from this very aggressive cancer.

Asbestos also causes lung cancer, and this risk increases tremendously with the addition of smoking.

Asbestosis is a restrictive lung disease caused by destruction of lung tissue when the body senses a foreign asbestos particle in the lung and mounts an immune response. This results in scarring as well as in failure of oxygenation of tissues in portions of the lungs.

Not only plant workers, but also families of workers, may be exposed to asbestos because workers can bring asbestos fibers home on their clothing.

An experienced mesothelioma attorney can advise you

Belluck & Fox, LLP, is well known for the large verdicts it has obtained for its clients with mesothelioma and lung cancer. The firm has represented several clients who worked at the Bristol-Myers plant in Syracuse. We know the plant and its layout. We are familiar with the companies that supplied asbestos to Bristol-Myers in Syracuse. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, Belluck & Fox, LLP, can assist you and your family. Call or send us a message today for a free consultation.


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Syracuse, NY