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Zeneca Group PLC
Public limited company
FateMerged with Astra AB
HeadquartersLondon, UK
ProductsPharmaceutical products

Zeneca (officially Zeneca Group PLC) was a British multinational pharmaceutical company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It was formed in June 1993 by the demerger of the pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals businesses of Imperial Chemical Industries into a separate company listed on the London Stock Exchange.[1]

In 1999 Zeneca and the Sweden-based pharmaceutical company Astra AB merged to form AstraZeneca plc.[2][3]

Zeneca's largest therapeutic area was oncology, in which its key products included Casodex, Nolvadex and Zoladex.[4] Other key products included the heart drug Tenormin.[5]


"Zeneca" was an invented name created by the branding consultancy Interbrand.[6] Interbrand had been instructed to find a name which began with a letter from either the top or bottom of the alphabet and was phonetically memorable, of no more than three syllables and did not have an offensive meaning in any language.[6]


In December 1994, Zeneca agreed the acquisition of 50 percent of Salick Health Care, an operator of cancer care centres in the United States, in a transaction which valued Salick at US$440 million.[7] Zeneca announced the sale of its textile colours business to the German group BASF in May 1996.[8] Zeneca exercised its right to acquire the 50 percent of Salick Health Care that it did not already own in March 1997.[9] In December 1997, Zeneca acquired the US fungicide operations of Ishihara Sangyo Kaisha, together with the international distribution rights to four recently developed fungicides, herbicides and pest control products, for US$500 million.[10][11]

In May 1998, Zeneca announced that Tom McKillop, then the head of its drugs division, would succeed Sir David Barnes as chief executive, with Barnes becoming non-executive chairman of the company.[12] In November 1998, Zeneca announced that it was planning to sell its Zeneca Specialties division, including its biocides, industrial colours, lifescience molecules, performance and intermediate chemicals and resins activities.[13] Zeneca and Astra AB announced a £48 billion merger in December 1998.[14] In February 1999, it was reported that Zeneca would be suing the US Food and Drug Administration in respect of its decision to allow Gensia Sicor to produce a generic version of its anaesthetic Diprivan.[15] The merger between Zeneca and Astra AB was completed in April 1999, forming AstraZeneca plc.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Timetable for Zeneca demerger spelled out". The Independent. 26 February 1993. Retrieved 5 July 2011.
  2. ^ "Zeneca and Astra merge to form drug giant". BBC News. 9 December 1998. Retrieved 5 July 2011.
  3. ^ "Corporate Profile: The arranged marriage". The Independent. 24 February 1999. Retrieved 5 July 2011.
  4. ^ "Pound batters drug giant". BBC News. 6 August 1998. Retrieved 5 July 2011.
  5. ^ "Zeneca profits up 42% in first year after demerger: Volume and price growth, but conditions remain tough". The Independent. 4 March 1994. Retrieved 5 July 2011.
  6. ^ a b "The name game". The Telegraph. 14 January 2001. Retrieved 25 May 2012.
  7. ^ "Zeneca to Extend Its Reach into Cancer Care Services". The New York Times. 23 December 1994. Retrieved 5 July 2011.
  8. ^ "Zeneca sells loss-making dye business for pounds 150m". The Independent. 9 May 1996. Retrieved 5 July 2011.
  9. ^ "Zeneca to Buy Rest of Salick Health Care". The New York Times. 28 March 1997. Retrieved 6 July 2011.
  10. ^ "Zeneca buys pounds 300m fungicide business from Japanese rival". The Independent. 18 December 1997. Retrieved 5 July 2011.
  11. ^ "Zeneca Group Buys U.S. Fungicide Business". The New York Times. 18 December 1997. Retrieved 5 July 2011.
  12. ^ "Drugs chief appointed new head of Zeneca". The Independent. 23 May 1998. Retrieved 5 July 2011.
  13. ^ "Zeneca mulls specialities sale". BBC News. 12 November 1998. Retrieved 5 July 2011.
  14. ^ "Has Zeneca chosen wisely?". The Independent. 11 December 1998. Retrieved 5 July 2011.
  15. ^ "Zeneca to sue US drug monitor". The Independent. 9 February 1999. Retrieved 5 July 2011.
  16. ^ "The Lowdown: McKillop gives his opponents the treatment". The Independent. 21 September 2003. Retrieved 5 July 2011.

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