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11089 - Medical science and economic power: the German pharmaceutical industry and the scientific relations between Germany and Brazil between the two World Wars

Soon after the end of the First World War, Germany launched a movement towards Latin America to recover the cultural, scientific and economic prominent positions it had kept in this part of the World. For such aim, several initiatives were put into practice by the German scientific community. German scientists were sent in special missions to countries in Central and South America and Latin American physicians were invited to visit German Institutions. Supporting the movement the German pharmaceutical industry takes part in the initiative. In 1921 the Chimica Industrial Bayer was founded in Brazil for importing and selling German products and start local production of medicines, and an aggressive politic towards the Brazilian market was initiated soon after its inauguration. However, it was mainly through the hiring of Renato Kehl - a Brazilian physician and pharmacist of German ascendance - that Bayer built its most effective strategy for facing the Brazilian Government and explore the local medical market. Kehl was a central figure of the eugenic movement in Brazil, being respected in Brazilian and foreign scientific circles, having published many articles and books on the subject. Besides, he was son-in-law of an important Brazilian physician, head of the National Department of Public Health. Kehl became responsible for promoting Bayer scientific activities and products and also acted as mediator between the company interests and the Brazilian government. I n tune with the orientation of Germany’s national-socialist party, Kehl became a promoting agent of Germany’s new political ideology. The pharmaceutical company not only supported Kehl’s actions, but also helped him to divulge his ideas through its journals: the Revista Terapeutica e O Farmacêutico Brasileiro . The present work brings to light the role played by Kehl as mediator of the German pharmaceutical industry in Brazil as well as for the efforts Germany was doing to recover its prestige, influence and commercial hegemony in Brazil.

Keywords: International Scientific Relations; German Pharmaceutical Industry; Brazil; Eugenics; Bayer

Author: Sá, Magali (Fundacao Oswaldo Cruz, Brazil / Brasilien)

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