Bayer AG, a company that knowingly infected thousands of children with HIV, is exploring purchasing its competitor, agrichemical giant Monsanto, unidentified and unverified individuals told Bloomberg. Uniting two of the world’s most hated companies, the deal could potentially be a boon for Monsanto, whose sales have tanked significantly recently as the global market continues to scoff at its pesticide, herbicide, and genetically-engineered seed empire.
According to Bloomberg’s anonymous sources, who are privy to the potential deal, preliminary internal discussions with advisers from both Bayer and Monsanto are now underway. Estimates put Monsanto’s market value around $40 billion despite sagging sales.
However, shortly after news of the takeover broke, Monsanto stocks shot through the roof. Gaining as much as 10% on Thursday.
Though Bayer established its reputation for the invention of aspirin, a more nefarious incident involving an HIV-contaminated drug to be administered to children suffering from hemophilia proved the corporation’s practices aren’t as noble as it would have the public believe.
In 1984, Bayer’s Factor VIII, used in the treatment of hemophilia, became contaminated with HIV — which the company became alerted to after a number of children became infected. In full awareness its medicine was tainted — and unable to sell Factor VIII in its compromised state inside the U.S. — Bayer asked for and received permission from federal regulators to sell the affected batch to Argentina, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, and Singapore after February 1984.
According to documents obtained by the New York Times, Bayer unit Cutter Biologic continued selling the tainted medicine despite knowing the potentially life-threatening risks to the children who would receive it. Cutter maintained in a written statement to the Times it had “behaved responsibly, ethically and humanely.”
“These are the most incriminating internal pharmaceutical industry documents I have ever seen,” said Dr. Sidney M. Wolf, director of the Public Citizen Research Group, at the time of the Times report in 2003.