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A Historic Landmark That Saves Lives

Recently recognized as a National Historic Chemical Landmark, Clinistix diagnostic strips were developed at Elkhart's Miles Laboratories in 1956.

The designation “historic landmark” isn’t just reserved for buildings or geographical sites.

A National Historic Chemical Landmark was recognized in Elkhart, Indiana in May 2010. The honoree was the dip-and-read diagnostic strips that were developed at Elkhart’s Miles Laboratories in 1956.

The work of researchers Alfred and Helen Free, the strips known as Clinistix became indispensable tools for patients with diabetes and kidney disease to monitor their blood sugar levels at home.

Characterized by the American Chemical Society as a “major biochemical advance”, Clinistix join the ranks of such other chemical landmarks as the discovery of penicillin, and the development of Tide laundry detergent.

Miles Laboratories was a primary employer in Elkhart for nearly a century. The pharmaceutical giant was founded in 1884 as Miles Medical Company by Dr. Franklin Miles to manufacture his “restorative Nervine”, prescribed for a broad spectrum of complaints.

The firm eventually produced Alka-Seltzer and Bactine, which profited from innovative television advertising in the 1950s to become household names.

Miles Laboratories also produced drugs, diagnostic products, and nutritional supplements, including One-a-Day Vitamins.

The West German corporation Bayer purchased Miles in 1977 in one of the most expensive transnational acquisitions of a chemical company to date.

As a Bayer subsidiary, Miles maintained its Elkhart operations, employing around 3000 local residents at its peak.

Bayer relocated North American operations to Pittsburgh in 1992, retired the Miles name three years later, and finally shuttered the its Elkhart plant in 2001.

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