You see, UCB wants to be a world leader when it comes to treating ailments related to the immune and central nervous systems (CNS). The company manufacturers prescription drugs to treat Crohn's disease, epilepsy, and Parkinson's disease. UCB's top products include Cimzia for Crohn's disease,Vimpat to treat epilepsy, and Neupro for Parkinson's disease. The company also makes allergy blockbuster Zyrtec. UCB has operations in nearly 30 countries, and markets its products through an internal sales force and through strategic relationships with other pharmaceutical companies. Marketing, manufacturing, and development partners include AstraZeneca and Novartis. Financière de Tubize owns a majority stake in UCB.
UCB is counting on Cimzia, Vimpat, and Neupro to drive its future growth, perhaps because in 2010, North American sales of Cimzia increased by more than 130%, while Vimpat's sales were up 220%. Sales for those drugs were also up in Europe, driven by further national launches throughout both the US and Europe.
Along with its small stable of revenue drivers, the company has a number of drugs in its clinical pipeline it believes are poised to bring in significant revenue once they complete their clinical development. The company has research, development, and marketing agreements with just about every major pharmaceutical company in the industry. Along with AstraZeneca and Novartis some of its partners include Abbott Laboratories (marketing), Amgen (product development), and Pfizer (research).
To focus on its growth initiatives and garner income to help usher its drug candidates through clinical trials, UCB divested the rights to some of its established treatments. It sold allergy medication Xyzal to Sanofi in the US (just as the drug neared patent expiration in that market in 2009). UCB also sold the rights to market epilepsy treatment Keppra in certain Asian, African, Latin American, and Middle Eastern nations to GlaxoSmithKline for €515 million ($677 million).
UCB made moves to maximize manufacturing efficiencies in 2010 by selling three facilities to Aesica; at the same time UCB is completing plans to build two biotech production sites in Belgium and Switzerland. The new sites are being built to meet expected demand for UCB's biological products as well as projected demand for Cimzia.
The company's R&D efforts are focused on discovering treatments for severe diseases in its key product areas (central nervous system disorders and immunology), with an emphasis on antibody research. UCB is also working to expand the applications for its existing pharmaceuticals. For example, Cimzia is approved for the additional use of treating rheumatoid arthritis along with its primary use of treating Crohn's disease. Neupro is being studied for the additional use of treating restless leg syndrome. By gaining additional approvals on existing drugs, the company is able to earn more money from a single treatment and diversify its products ahead of patent expirations.
UCB was formed in 1928 by Emmanuel Janssen as Union Chimique Belge (UCB). At that time UCB was primarily focused on manufacturing industrial chemicals. By the 1940s it was developing pharmaceuticals during World War II. Decades later in 2010, the company treats more than 200,000 patients. Its pipeline is stuffed with seven late-stage candidates and six early-stage, all in central nervous system and immunology.