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|Traded as||Euronext: UCB|
|Gerhard Mayr (Chairman), Jean Christophe Tellier (CEO)|
Number of employees
|8,500 (end 2014)|
UCB (Union Chimique Belge) is a multinational biopharmaceutical company headquartered in Brussels, Belgium. UCB is an international company with a revenue of $3.876 billion in 2015  which focuses primarily on research and development, specifically involving medications centered on epilepsy, Parkinson's, and Crohn's diseases. The Company's efforts are focused on treatments for severe diseases treated by specialists, particularly in the fields of central nervous system (CNS) disorders (including epilepsy), inflammatory disorders (including allergy), and oncology.
Every three years, the company presents the UCB Award under the patronage of the Queen Elisabeth Medical Foundation to promote neuroscience research. The winner of this award is selected by an independent scientific committee.
UCB was founded on 18 January 1928 by Emmanuel Janssen, a Belgian businessman. Initially focused on industrial chemicals (it was one of the first companies to distill ammonia from coal), the company also included a small pharmaceutical division based around Meurice Laboratories.
In the early 1950s, UCB set up a research centre where new medicines such as Atarax (hydroxyzine) were developed. Successful sales enabled the pharmaceutical division to expand, and led to the discovery of another important compound, called piracetam. This was marketed in the 1970s as Nootropil and used to treat memory and balance problems. It remains one of UCB's key products. At this time, UCB was a company focusing on three core areas: pharmaceuticals, chemicals and films.
The success of Nootropil made it possible for UCB to build a modern pharmaceutical site in Braine-l'Alleud, south of Brussels. There, UCB developed Zyrtec (cetirizine), a blockbuster antihistamine. Other important products have followed including Keppra (levetiracetam), Xyzal (levocetirizine), and Cimzia (certolizumab pegol), which was acquired through the acquisition of Celltech.
At the end of 2002, the chemicals and films divisions were merged and UCB added the resins, additives and adhesives activities of Solutia, to form the surface specialties division. The films part has since been sold to Innovia Films in September 2004. The chemicals division, Methylamines and Derivatives was spun off and later sold to form the company Taminco.
In May 2004, UCB acquired the British biotechnology company Celltech, followed in March 2005 by the sale of the surface specialties to Cytec Industries. By divesting all of its non-pharmaceutical activities, and acquiring Celltech for a mere $1 billion, UCB transformed itself into a global biopharmaceutical company.
In 2006, UCB started the purchase of the German pharmaceutical company Schwarz for 4 billion. As of July 2007[update], UCB holds approximately 87% of Schwarz's outstanding shares. The purchase of Schwarz enabled UCB to introduce two new drugs against CNS disorders: Neupro (rotigotine), a transdermal patch for treatment of Parkinson's disease and Vimpat (lacosamide), a new anticonvulsant. Another new drug of the Schwarz portfolio, Toviaz (fesoterodine), a compound to treat overactive bladder, was licensed to Pfizer in 2006.
In 2008, UCB established a multi-year collaboration with Beryllium, a developer of treatments for immune and CNS disorders. By 2014, this collaboration had yielded "significant scientific breakthroughs", which led to UCB acquiring a minority stake in the company.
In November 2014, UCB announced its intention to sell of its generics subsidiary (Kremers Urban Pharmaceuticals) for more than $1.5 billion to two private equity firms.
In 2015, UCB announced the sale of its branded generics business in India and South Asia to Dr. Reddy's Laboratories for INR 8 billion ($128.38 million). In September of the same year the company off loaded its generics business to Lannett for $1.23 billion.
Notable drugs developed by UCB
- Atarax (hydroxyzine)
- Briviact (Brivaracetam)
- Nootropil (piracetam)
- Zyrtec (cetirizine), an OTC antihistamine
- Keppra (levetiracetam), an anticonvulsant medication used to treat epilepsy
- Xyzal (levocetirizine), a third-generation non-sedative antihistamine
- Cimzia (certolizumab pegol), a monoclonal antibody to TNF-α for the treatment of Crohn's disease and rheumatoid arthritis
- Neupro (rotigotine), a transdermal patch for treatment of Parkinson's disease
- Vimpat (lacosamide), an anticonvulsant
- Atamet (carbidopa/levodopa) for Parkinson's disease
UCB has operations in over 40 countries and employs more than 7500 people. The United States specialty generics subsidiary was Kremers Urban Pharmaceuticals, established in 1904 and based in Princeton, New Jersey. By November 2015, Lannett Company had acquired Kremers for US$1,230,000,000.
In 2004, UCB was fined 10.4 million Euros by the EU for its involvement in a Vitamin B4 price fixing cartel. In 2011, UCB was fined $34 million in the US for fraud arising from the mispromotion of Keppra for migraines, despite company research showing it was ineffective for this purpose. In 2015, UCB has been investigated by Chinese authorities for corruption and bribery.
- Heather Timmons (May 19, 2004). "Belgian drugmaker seeks to buy Celltec". The New York Times.
- UCB S.A. Press Release of 25 September 2006; accessed on 12 September 2008.
- Staff (15 June 2014). "UCB Gains Noncontrolling Interest in Beryllium". News Industry Watch. Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (Paper). p. 8.
- "UCB Names EVP Tellier as Successor to CEO Doliveux". GEN News Highlights. Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News. February 20, 2014.
- "Lannett To Acquire Kremers Urban Pharmaceuticals For $1.23 Billion" (Press release). Lannett. 2 September 2015.
- House, Douglas W. (27 November 2015). "Lannett completes $1.23B takeover of Kremers Urban Pharma". Seeking Alpha. Retrieved 29 November 2015.
- Meller, Paul (2004-12-08). "Europe Is Expected to Fine Members of Vitamin Cartel". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-11-24.
- "EC fines BASF, Akzo and UCB Euro66m in choline chloride cartel crackdown". www.icis.com. Retrieved 2015-11-24.
- "UCB Pays $34 Million and Pleads Guilty in Epilepsy Drug Fraud Case". Prescriptions Blog. Retrieved 2015-11-24.
- "China: Belgian Drugmaker UCB Targeted in Wake of GSK Bribery Scandal". International Business Times UK. Retrieved 2015-11-24.