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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

INBIFO is an acronym for Institut für Biologische Forschung, or Institute for Biological Research, a laboratory in Cologne (Koln-Germany) which was secretely owned by Philip Morris. Journalists became aware of Philip Morris's ownership of INBIFO in March 1996, and Philip Morris hastily put out a press release 'to minimise the risk of misinformation and misunderstandings", but until then the relationship had been kept secret,[2]

In the late 1980s Philip Morris hived off part of INBIFO and established an animal facility in Brussels, called the Contract Research Center (CRC) This was actually just a front for some of INBIFO's work. The purpose of all this secrecy was to block American courts from insisting on the production of document which could have shown that the company was fully aware of the dangers of its products. Research was always a double-edged sword to the cigarette companies: they needed to do research to see if they could make a less harmful cigarette (or one which produced less visible smoke), yet they couldn't afford to have this dragged out in open court.

At that time Philip Morris had over 300 scientists and employees at three research facilities in Europe, of which INBIFO was only one. However, grouped together with CRC, INBIFO had a staff of 128 of which 34 were professional scientist/engineers. The CRC had a further 23 employees of which 3 were scientist. [3] A December 1999 report (after the links had been exposed) says that

A speech appears to have been prepared c 1996 (in the same file) to provide journalists with an outline of Philip Morris's research activities. It has been cleared by the legal department under Cathy Ellis. [[5]

Documents & Timeline

1967 Philip Morris begin using INBIFO to develop animal testing systems (Inhalation Exposure Chamber, Animal Contaminant Tupes and Improved Syringe Smoking Machine. [6] 1969 Dec 16Correspondence between the USA and Switzerland shows that Max Hausermann is now involved in Research & Development at the FTR factory in Neuchatel, and is also involved in negotiating the secret purchase of INBIFO laboratories in Cologne. Currently ithe laboratory is run by Ulrich Hackenberg, under the ownership of TRW. [7]

1967 Aug 21A US consultant, Peter C Luchsinger, has visited Max Hausermann in Neuchatel and is reporting back to PM USA.

The main discussion centered around INBIFO. The INBIFO project should be accelerated, particularly in view of the outcome of the monkey studies . I suggested to Max Hausermann to proceed as fast as possible. I emphasize, however, that I am speaking only as a consultant. The INBIFO project encounters the following problems :

  • Smoking Machine. The smoking machine has been developed satisfactorily. Up to 32 animals can be exposed simultaneously.
  • Nicotine and'Carbon Monoxide Determinations. In order to ascertain that the animais inhale particulate

matter and gas phase, carbon monoxide has to be determined in blood. This has been solved satisfactorily.

  • Histopathological Studies. INBIFO has made no progress whatsoever in the determination of emphysema or bronchitis on a quantitative basis . Max and I decided that Max will encourage INBIFO to contact Hazleton to obtain the necessary techniques.[8]

1971 June 30 PM secretly acquired INBIFO. Helmut Wakeham, PM's Vice President of Research & Development, explained in an internal note that INBIFO offered "a locale where we might do some of the things which we are reluctant to do in this country [USA]."[1]

INBIFO's stated mission was "quantitative biological product evaluation" by using "comprehensive toxicological and physiological testing." Major activities the lab performed are listed as: product evaluation and modifications, product ingredients and ETS (environmental tobacco smoke)-related technical knowledge and smoke components. An inhalation lab was set up in INBIFO in 1973 and inhalation toxicology was a key feature of INBIFO.


1971 Aug 5 Wakeham wrote to INBIFO owner Ulrich Hackenberg who was recovering from an illness. They are taking the organisation over and making major changes.

  • Walter Thoma will not be involved further with the INBIFO program
  • Bill Murray of PM Europe will take his place
  • They will have legal advice from Klaus Bohlhoff re German law on operation of a laboratory as a profit-making organization
  • They plan to split the company, and sell the instruments and equipment from one.
  • They may hire Dr Ingolf Richter


1974 late They have now acquired land and a laboratory building at Marienburg Porz and they have begun a major skin-painting study. In 1975 they begin major inhalation studies, followed by autopsies of the lung cells. [9]

1977 March 31 Max Hausermann was at the head of PME R&D in Neuchatel. However Helmut Gaish at S&T FTR has suggested in a letter to subordinates, that, if they need pesticide residue analysis, they send the samples directly to INBIFO. Robert Seligman in New York objects:

This suggested procedure is in direct conflict with our communications from the New York Office, We have gone to great pains to eliminate any written contact with INBIFO, and I would like to maintain this structure.

Seligman was advising his executives and scientists to send any sample to PME in Neuchatel, and they should then trans-ship them to INBIFO. Alternately they could consider setting up a "dummy" mailing address in Koln. The analytical data will need to be routed back through FTR also.

He was also returning his copies of Gaisch's letter to scrub his files, and he suggested to Hausermann that they do the same. [10]

1978 a 37 page "Long Term Planning" document for INBIFO gives a good overview of the type of animal research they are doing. This may be at the CRC Brussels lab run by Roger Walk, but there is no suggestion that it isn't Cologne either. They have Hamster, Rat, Frog, Guinea Pig, all involved in nicotine and inhalation studies, and mouse skin paintings (which they officially decried).

The budget for 1975 had been decreased to $1.675 million, partly because they couldn't get the professional laboratory workers.

Their own break-down of the work being done shows that about twice as much research was being done for PM USA as for FTR in Switzerland. Also there is more professional commitment to the PM USA work. They also contract research to other industries,(BASF, Bayer, Mercedes and the German Tobacco Verband) which accounts for about half their labour, but utilizing fewer professional researchers. needed.[11]

1983 Dec 20 Report on GLP (Good Laboratory Practices) afterinspection of INBIFO 2501687702 501687715

1988 INBIFO had 126 employees on staff. "Publications" was also a stated activity. Scientists at INBIFO examined irritancy, mutagenicity, cytotoxicity, DNA damage, oxidative stress, tumor promoting activity, oncogenicity, cardiovascular and plaque formation caused by smoke from PM cigarettes (not an exhaustive list). In vitro and in vivo testing were both done at INBIFO.

INBIFO had 53,000 square feet of floor space. Activities were divided into the following categories: Smoking and health, 17%, "expert opinions" 20%, product evaluation 39%, "capability extension" 24%. [2]

1992 /E A scientific report from INBIFO explains what different types of toxicity tests (assays) measure, and what assays were in use at the time at INBIFO. The paper is not dated, but the last page indicates it was produced, at earliest, in 1992:From page four of the document

Selection Criteria for in Vitro Toxicity Assays:

1) most informative
2) best validated
3) most helpful in a legislative context.[3]

1993 Dec As recently as 1993, Philip Morris maintained a system whereby research documents were kept out of America to avoid legal discovery. A PM Memo on the the handling of INBIFO/CRC files, at the time systematic destruction of files was taking place globally says:

Final reports on PM USA product research are sent to Richmond for a review and are then returned to INBIFO. Supporting data and documents are kept at INBIFO."

Secondhand smoke studies at INBIFO

According to a paper published in December 2005 in the journal Tobacco Control by Suzaynn Schick, Ph.D., who studied the extensive research done on cigarette smoke at INBIFO between 1981 and 1989 PM performed at least 115 studies at the lab on the toxicity of secondhand tobacco smoke. These revealed that secondhand smoke is four times more toxic by inhalation and 2-6 times more tumorigenic on skin than mainstream smoke (the smoke the smoker himself inhales).

PM never published any of the studies done at INBIFO, nor did the company otherwise share the information with governments or the public. [4]

INBIFO was largely controlled by Philip Morris through the Swiss subsidiary team at FTR led by Helmut Gaisch, but for a number of years Ragnar Rylander (then part-time at the University of Geneva) provided the scientific direction.

When Germany severely restricted animal experiments in 1988, Philip Morris created a subsidiary of INBIFO, the Contract Research Center (CRC), in Brussels (Belgium), and relocated all its animal test facilities there.

2004 INBIFO was renamed Philip Morris Research Laboratories GmbH in 2004.

Other SourceWatch Resources

External Resources


  1. Diethelm PA et al. (2004). "The whole truth and nothing but the truth? The research that Philip Morris did not want you to see.". The Lancet 366: 86–92. 
  2. INBIFO, Institute Fur Biologische Forschung History and Capabilities of INBIFO Cologne CRC Brussels Speech/presentation. 1988. Bates No.2505235055/5088
  3. Published Test Batteries and In Vitro Assays Used at INBIFO, Presentation. 16 pp. Undated. Bates No. 2501403676A/372
  4. Schick S, Glantz S. Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, University of California San Francisco. Philip Morris toxicological experiments with fresh sidestream smoke: more toxic than mainstream smoke Tobacco Control 2005;14:396-404

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