We build on a strong heritage

Founded in 1928, UCB has constantly evolved to face the challenges and opportunities of an everchanging world. It has been an exciting journey with its ups and downs: realizing some dreams, facing some challenges, learning from failures, taking risks and seizing the opportunities…


Emmanuel Janssen established Union Chimique Belge (UCB) in Brussels (Belgium), primarily focusing on industrial chemicals.


Production of primary care products (calcium, vitamins, insuline, etc.) during World War II.

The 50’s

Stronger focus on research, resulting in the discovery in 1954 of one of the world’s first tranquillizers, Atarax® (hydroxyzine), providing the resources to create a new state-of-the-art pharmaceutical R&D centre in Braine-l’Alleud, Belgium (1964).

The 70’s

Focus on a limited number of products with higher added-value. Development of a European network through acquisitions in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the U.K.

The 80’s

Globalisation with acquisitions in the U.S., Korea, Thailand and Japan.


Launch of Zyrtec® (cetirizine), a novel antihistamine, UCB’s first blockbuster with net sales of € 1.7 billion in 2001 (partner: Pfizer).


Launch of Keppra® (levetiracetam), a new treatment option for people living with epilepsy. It reached blockbuster status in 2008 with net sales of € 1.2 billion.


Acquisition of Celltech Group Ltd, a leading British biotechnology company

Focus on biopharmaceuticals, a combination of large, antibodybased molecules and small, chemically-derived molecules.

Divestiture of non-core business, starting with the films and chemical divisions, followed by primary care products.


Acquisition of Schwarz Pharma AG, based in Germany, bringing complementary therapeutic and geographic focus.

Launch of Neupro® (rotigotine transdermal patch) in Parkinson’s disease.


Launch of Cimzia® (certolizumab pegol), UCB’s first biologic to treat autoimmune disorders. It reached blockbuster status in 2015.

Launch of Vimpat® (lacosamide), a new mechanism of action to treat epilepsy. It reached blockbuster status in 2018.


Launch of Briviact® (brivaracetam), a new treatment option for people living with epilepsy.

Read and print it here:

The reference shareholder has played a very decisive role. Thanks to its entrepreneurship, the Janssen family has supported UCB development every step of the way: taking risks, supporting difficult strategic decisions, transforming the company from a Belgian chemical conglomerate into a global biopharma leader.

Today, UCB is an innovation-driven global biopharma company engaged in the business of researching, developing, manufacturing, selling and distributing biopharma products to create value for patients by improving the lives of patients and thereby create value for the company, its stakeholders and society in general.

If you want to know more about our history, we invite you to read the book “UCB – the first 90 years”.