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Group.png Roche  
(Big pharma)Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
FounderFritz Hoffmann-La Roche
HeadquartersBasel, Switzerland
LeaderHoffmann-La Roche/President
Member ofEuropean Policy Centre
Founder ofDiazepam
Largest pharmaceutical company in the world

F. Hoffmann-La Roche AG, commonly known as Roche, is a Swiss multinational healthcare company. The company headquarters are located in Basel. Roche is the largest pharmaceutical company in the world.[1]

Heroin trade

Between the two world wars, Roche supplied morphine to the underworld. Other drug companies in the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, Switzerland and the United States also participated in the trade with opium, morphine and heroin. The CEO of Roche in the United Stats, Elmer Bobst, had great difficulty persuading his superiors in Basel that they should stop their unethical business practice. Roche continued to ship narcotics to the United States behind Bobst's back, but he came across a cryptic telegram while visiting the headquarters, which left no doubt it came from US criminals - it spoke about a shipment of sodium bicarbonate, which is used for baking cakes.[2]

Roche agreed to stop the trade when Bobst reported that the US government had threatened to exclude Roche from doing business in the United States if the company didn't stop. However, Roche took up the habit again, and again without telling Bobst. Im his book, Bobst mentions that the man who was responsible for this wasn't at heart an immoral man, but utterly amoral in business. He also described how Roche avoided Swiss taxes by setting up a company in the tax haven Liechtenstein.

Vitamin, Inc

Hoffmann-La Roche was the largest corporate fraudster worldwide in the 1990s, according to a 1999 listing of all industries, including banking and oil. High level Roche executives led a cartel that, according to the US Department of Justice's antitrust division, was the most harmful criminal antitrust conspiracy ever uncovered[3]. Top executives at some of the world's biggest drug companies, largely from Europe and Asia, met secretly in hotel suites and at conferences. Working together in a coalition they brazenly called 'Vitamins, Inc.' they carved up world markets and carefully orchestrated price increases, in the process defrauding some of the world's biggest food companies. Roche alone had revenue of $3.3 billion in the United States while the conspiracy was running, and during that time, the conspirators gradually and artfully increased the prices of raw vitamins, so as not to attract notice; they also rigged the bidding process.[4]

After the conspiracy collapsed, Roche agreed to pay $500 million, equivalent to about 1 year of its revenue from the vitamin business in the United States, and two executives were sentenced to a few months in prison.[4]

A whistleblower, Stanley Adams, who already in 1973 alerted the the competition commission of the European Economic Community of the cartel, was imprisoned for industrial espionage in Switzerland after pressure from Roche.

2009 Tamiflu

Roche profited massively from the 2009 swine flu panic with its drug Tamiflu. Tamiflu was not selling well before the "pandemic" and Roche's profits were dwindling due to lack of patents. But business-influenced decision making during the "pandemic" made European and US governments buy stockpiles of Tamiflu for billions of dollars.

It later turned out that for years, Roche has possessed various studies that proved that Tamiflu is useless - but these studies had never been published[5]

At the time Donald Rumsfeld sat on its board of directors and held 4bn worth of stocks. Rumsfeld (then Minister of Defense) denied any conflict of interest. [6]

nCoV-2019 antibody test

In May 2020, a test made by Hoffmann-La Roche for Covid-19 is granted 'emergency approval' by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in an urgent procedure. It is only the third Covid-test to receive emergency approval, and the first commercially available. It gives quick results, in 18 minutes, and will be accepted worldwide in what has been touted one of Roche's biggest deals[7], bigger even than Tamiflu.

The test is not based on the PCR method (which directly detects parts of viral RNA) but addresses antibodies built by the immune system after 1-2 weeks of contact. These may not be specific with a risk for false positives stemming from common cold viruses. The test is self-approved by Roche with the FDA merely giving green light. [8]


Roche became renowned for being the first pharmaceutical company to introduce a new branch in the field of psychopharmacology - psychotropic drugs, such as Diazepam, a substance that acts as the active ingredient in Valium, launched in the year 1963. In the course of the 60s and 70s they were introduced to the American market. In a very short time, it became something that is commonly referred to as a blockbuster drug, due to its immense popularity. Valium soon became known as a "Mother's helper", due to the fact that it was allegedly supposed to relieve the intense stress of early motherhood.[9]

Roche pushed Valium to become the top-selling drug in the world, although many indications of its use were highly doubtful and the wholesale price was 25 times the price of gold[10]. At first, it was considered that Valium could not cause addiction symptoms. Furthermore, it was believed that the drug could not prove itself to be lethal, even if a patient intentionally overdosed on it. However, by 1975 Valium was already being abused by an immense number of people.[9] In the course of the following years, reports of addiction, along with those of withdrawal began to circulate in the media. Nonetheless, diazepam continues to be widely prescribed around the globe as a medication, which is intended to cure insomnia, as well as anxiety disorders.

It took 27 years after the first report about dependence had been published before the drug regulators fully acknowledges that tranquilizers are highly addictive[11]

Seveso disaster

In 1976, an accident at a chemical factory in Seveso, Italy, owned by a subsidiary of Roche, caused a large dioxin contamination. [12] It resulted in the highest known exposure to 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) in residential populations. This accident was ranked eighth in a list of the worst man-made environmental disasters by Time magazine in 2010.[13] Roche initially denied any fault.


Employee on Wikispooks

André HoffmannVice-Chairman