was the largest biotechnology
company in the U.S. state of Washington
before it was sold to Eli Lilly and Company
Co-founded in 1989 by George B. Rathmann, a pioneer in the industry and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and co-founder of Amgen, Icos focused on the development of drugs to treat inflammatory disorders.
During its 17-year history, the company conducted clinical trials of 12 drugs, three of which reached the last phase of clinical trials. Icos also manufactured antibodies for other biotechnology companies.
Icos is famous for tadalafil (Cialis), a drug used to treat erectile dysfunction.
This drug was discovered by GlaxoSmithKline, developed by Icos, and manufactured and marketed in partnership with Eli Lilly. Boosted by a unique advertising campaign led by the Grey Worldwide Agency, sales from Cialis allowed Icos to become profitable in 2006.
Cialis was the only drug developed by the company to be approved. LeukArrest, a drug to treat shock, and Pafase, developed for sepsis, were both tested in phase III clinical trials, but testing was discontinued after unpromising results during the trials. Eli Lilly acquired Icos in January 2007, and most of Icos's workers were laid off soon after.
CMC Biopharmaceuticals, a Danish contract manufacturer, bought the remnants of Icos and retained the remaining employees.