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The Upjohn Company
Industry Pharmaceutical
Founded1886 (1886)
Defunct1995;26 years ago (1995)
FateMerged with Pharmacia to form Pharmacia & Upjohn
Successor Pharmacia & Upjohn
Headquarters Michigan, United States of America
Logo of Upjohn Pill & Granule, later The Upjohn Company Upjohn's Friable Pills.jpg
Logo of Upjohn Pill & Granule, later The Upjohn Company

The Upjohn Company was a pharmaceutical manufacturing firm founded in 1886 in Hastings, Michigan, by Dr. William E. Upjohn, an 1875 graduate of the University of Michigan medical school. The company was originally formed to make friable pills, which were specifically designed to be easily digested. [1] These could be "reduced to a powder under the thumb", a strong marketing argument at the time.


In 1995, Upjohn merged with Pharmacia AB to form Pharmacia & Upjohn; [2] the company was owned by Pfizer from 2015 until 2020. In 2020, the company merged with Mylan to form Viatris.


Unicap, a multivitamin produced by Upjohn. Unicap Upjohn.jpg
Unicap, a multivitamin produced by Upjohn.

Upjohn developed a process for the large scale production of cortisone. The oxygen atom at the 11 position in this steroid is an absolute requirement for biological activity. There are however no known natural sources for starting materials that contain that feature. The only method for preparing this drug prior to 1952 was a lengthy synthesis starting from cholic acid isolated from bile. In 1952 two Upjohn biochemists, Dury Peterson and Herb Murray announced that they were able to introduce this crucial oxygen atom by fermentation of the steroid progesterone with a common mold of the genus Rhizopus. Over the next several years a group of chemists headed by John Hogg developed a process for preparing cortisone from the soybean sterol stigmasterol. The microbiological oxygenation is a key step in this process. [3]

Subsequently, Upjohn together with Schering biochemically converted cortisone into the more potent steroid prednisone by a bacterial fermentation. [4] [5] In chemical research, the company is best known for the development of the Upjohn dihydroxylation by V. VanRheenen, R. C. Kelly and D. Y. Cha in 1976. [6] Upjohn's most well-known drugs before the acquisition by Pfizer were Xanax, Halcion, Motrin, Lincocin, and Rogaine.[ citation needed ][ when? ]

In 2015, Pfizer resurrected the Upjohn name for a division which manufactures and licenses drugs for which patents have expired; as of 2019 it plans to divest itself of this business in 2020. [7]

In July 2019, Pfizer announced plans to merge Upjohn with Mylan, with the new company to be known as Viatris. [8] The merger was expected to close in the first half of 2020, but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. [9] The merger was completed in November 2020 and the new company was named Viatris. [10]

See also

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Corticosteroids are a class of steroid hormones that are produced in the adrenal cortex of vertebrates, as well as the synthetic analogues of these hormones. Two main classes of corticosteroids, glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids, are involved in a wide range of physiological processes, including stress response, immune response, and regulation of inflammation, carbohydrate metabolism, protein catabolism, blood electrolyte levels, and behavior.

Pfizer American multinational pharmaceutical corporation

Pfizer Inc. is an American multinational pharmaceutical and biotechnology corporation headquartered on 42nd Street in Manhattan, New York City. The company was established in 1849 in New York by two German immigrants, Charles Pfizer (1824-1906) and his cousin Charles F. Erhart (1821-1891).

Pharmacia Pharmaceutical and biotechnological company

Pharmacia was a pharmaceutical and biotechnological company in Sweden that merged with the American pharmaceutical company Upjohn in 1995.

An epinephrine autoinjector is a medical device for injecting a measured dose or doses of epinephrine (adrenaline) by means of autoinjector technology. It is most often used for the treatment of anaphylaxis. The first epinephrine autoinjector was brought to market in 1983.

Percy Lavon Julian American 20th century research chemist

Percy Lavon Julian was an American research chemist and a pioneer in the chemical synthesis of medicinal drugs from plants. He was the first to synthesize the natural product physostigmine and was a pioneer in the industrial large-scale chemical synthesis of the human hormones progesterone and testosterone from plant sterols such as stigmasterol and sitosterol. His work laid the foundation for the steroid drug industry's production of cortisone, other corticosteroids, and birth control pills.

Prednisone Steroid medication

Prednisone is a glucocorticoid medication mostly used to suppress the immune system and decrease inflammation in conditions such as asthma, COPD, and rheumatologic diseases. It is also used to treat high blood calcium due to cancer and adrenal insufficiency along with other steroids. It is taken by mouth.

Valdecoxib Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug

Valdecoxib is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used in the treatment of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and painful menstruation and menstrual symptoms. It is a selective cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitor. It was patented in 1995.

Pharmacia & Upjohn

Pharmacia & Upjohn was a global pharmaceutical company formed by the merger of Sweden-based Pharmacia AB and the American company Upjohn in 1995. Today the remainder of the company is owned by Pfizer. In 1997, Pharmacia & Upjohn sold several brands to Johnson & Johnson, including Motrin and Cortaid.

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Sodium erythorbate Chemical compound

Sodium erythorbate (C6H7NaO6) is a food additive used predominantly in meats, poultry, and soft drinks. Chemically, it is the sodium salt of erythorbic acid. When used in processed meat such as hot dogs and beef sticks, it increases the rate at which nitrite reduces to nitric oxide, thus facilitating a faster cure and retaining the pink coloring. As an antioxidant structurally related to vitamin C, it helps improve flavor stability and prevents the formation of carcinogenic nitrosamines. When used as a food additive, its E number is E316. The use of erythorbic acid and sodium erythorbate as a food preservative has increased greatly since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned the use of sulfites as preservatives in foods intended to be eaten fresh (such as ingredients for fresh salads) and as food processors have responded to the fact that some people are allergic to sulfites. It can also be found in bologna, and is occasionally used in beverages, baked goods, and potato salad.

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Alphapharm is a generic drug manufacturing company based in Australia. Alphapharm manufactures many different generic pharmaceutical medicines and exports to 50 countries. It is owned by Mylan Pharmaceuticals (USA) which merged with Upjohn on November 16, 2020 to become Viatris. Alphapharm's logo is a green circle with a white lowercase alpha enclosed. Alphapharm is the greatest sole supplier to the Australian Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

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  1. Lohrstorfer, Martha; Larson, Catherine (2002). "William E. Upjohn: Person of the Century 1853 - 1932". Kalamazoo Public Library. Archived from the original on September 28, 2007.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  2. "Upjohn Company". Resource Informagen. Archived from the original on May 7, 2006.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  3. Hogg, John A. (1992). "Steroids, the steroid community, and Upjohn in perspective: A profile of innovation". Steroids. 57 (12): 593–616. doi:10.1016/0039-128X(92)90013-Y. PMID   1481225.
  4. "Prednisone Half Life Is A Good Medicine". PrednisoneSideEffects.org. Archived from the original on January 11, 2012.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  5. "DailyMed - DELTASONE- prednisone tablet". dailymed.nlm.nih.gov.
  6. Vanrheenen, V.; Kelly, R.C.; Cha, D.Y. (1976). "An improved catalytic OsO4 oxidation of olefins to cis-1,2-glycols using tertiary amine oxides as the oxidant". Tetrahedron Letters. 17 (23): 1973–6. doi:10.1016/S0040-4039(00)78093-2.)
  7. Nathan-Kazis, Josh (September 19, 2019). "Pfizer Is Spinning Off Upjohn. What's Left Will Be No Bargain, Analyst Says". Barron's . Retrieved March 30, 2020.
  8. Valinsky, Jordan (29 July 2019). "Viagra and EpiPen drugmakers form a $20-billion-a-year powerhouse". CNN. Retrieved 2020-05-07.
  9. Gough, Paul (26 March 2020). "Mylan delays merger with Upjohn due to COVID-19 pandemic". Pittsburgh Business Times.
  10. Sabatini, Patricia (16 November 2020). "Mylan completes merger with Upjohn to form Viatris". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2020-11-18.