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UCB Pharma; Combining biology and chemistry to crack the CNS market

Posted on 07 October 2013

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UCB Pharma is a global biopharma company developing treatments for diseases of the immune and central nervous system. UCB Pharma  has launched a number of blockbuster products throughout its history, including epilepsy medication Keppra. Unlike very few other companies UCB Pharma is a regular participant of both the top 50 pharmaceutical and biotechnology, according to Current Partnering.

Based in Brussels, Belgium, UCB (Union Chimique Belge) started up production in the 1920’s originally as a chemicals company with only a small pharmaceutical division. As time went on UCB Pharma grew and during the 1950’s conducted its first therapeutic breakthroughs. Zyrtec, an antihistamine for the treatment of allergies including hay fever became one of it s biggest blockbuster products in the 1980s. By the late 1980’s UCB had fully established itself in the CNS field, a significantly unmet medical market with lots of scope for medical developments.

In terms of partnering UCB Pharma, like most other major biopharma companies has partaken in its fair share of strategic partnerships throughout its history to build it into what it is today. Each of its partnerships is focused upon certain development stages, for example the company has several partnerships that focus upon research, several that focus on product development and several that focus upon marketed products. Its partnering deals include joint discovery, joint development and manufacturing agreements.

UCB has acquired three major companies including Schwarz Pharma and Celltech and is currently looking for further partnerships to expand its pipeline and product range. To further establish its position in the CNS market, UCB signed a major licensing agreement earlier this year with Biotie to license worldwide rights to their Parkinson’s disease therapy.  Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease still remain the two CNS diseases that have no cure and only a short influx of treatment therapies.

Source:, 2013

Summary of UCB’s partnering interests

UCB is focused on developing and licensing products that focus upon treating immune diseases and diseases of the central nervous system. The company has the following key products but also has a number in the development pipeline:

Central Nervous System

Vimpat (lacosamide) - Epilepsy

Keppra (levetiracetam) - Epilepsy

Neupro (rotigotine) - Parkinson's disease and Restless Legs Syndrome

Nootropil (piracetam) - Regulating cerebral functions

Metadate CD (methylphenidate HCl) (CII) - Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)



Cimzia (certolizumab pegol) - Crohn's disease, Psoriatic arthritis and Rheumatoid arthritis

Xyzal (levocetirizine) - Allergies

Zyrtec (cetirizine) - Allergies

Tussionex (hydrocodone polistirex and chlorpheniramine polistirex) (CIII) - Respiratory disease


Other products in development are being developed for systemic lupus erythematosus and post-menopausal osteoporosis.

The company’s main therapeutic areas for partnering are:



Parkinson's disease

Cognitive disorders

Orphan indication in neurology






UCB has also indicated that in addition to acquiring developmental stage products it is interested in reviewing commercial stage products.

For the latest detail on UCB’s partnering interests and how to contact them, visit UCB’s partnering page.

Partnering outreach

UCB is routinely present at a large number of partnering events throughout the year.

Partnering events are a great place to meet lots of potential partners face to face in a small amount of time.

Events with UCB presence include but are not limited to:

  • BIO International Convention and Business Forum
  • BioEurope / BioEurope Spring

For a full list of forthcoming partnering events where you could meet with UCB in person visit Current Partnering’s Event calendar.

Contacting UCB for partnering

UCB can be contacting in relation to partnering through a number of channels.

Here is a list of the most common channels:


Partnering events: face to face contact is generally considered the most effective form of contact. Partnering events not only allow face to face contact but also contact with multiple companies for the price of one flight and hotel reservation. This benefit makes partnering events the most cost effective method of making personal introductions as a start point for partnering discussions.

See Current Partnering’s event calendar for details of forthcoming events.

Direct contact: there are several sources of direct contact with UCB’s business development team

-        Phone: Picking up the phone and speaking with an individual is the best form of non-face to face contact as it allows your name and voice to be remembered and associated with an opportunity.

-        Email: Sending an email is another good way of making contact. Ideally, research the individual responsible for the therapy/technology area being targeted and get in touch. Email contact to a named individual view the list of contacts at UCB’s website for details.

-        LinkedIn: Business to business contact is increasingly taking place via LinkedIn, the global online networking channel. Many of UCB’s business development executives have LinkedIn profiles and can be found by viewing the company’s profile. Visit UCB’s LinkedIn page here.

Opportunity submission form: the least favourable channel but worth using if you do not have access to the other channels mentioned above. UCB does not provide an online opportunity submission form.

Raveena Bhambra


UCB Company profile

Partnering activity for UCB 

M&A activity for UCB


Available reports from Current Partnering

Report: Partnering Deals and Alliances with UCB

Report: Top 50 Big Pharma Partnering and M&A Deal Trends 


Available resources for deal coverage for UCB

Subscribe: Current Agreements life sciences partnering, M&A and financing deals database –find out more

Read: more on UCB company profile, recent partnering, M&A and financing news and articles



Report: Practical Guide to Finding Partners

View: Current Partnering’s Partnering Scorecard – view top life science partnering deals by value

View: Current Partnering’s M&A Scorecard – view top life science M&A deals by value

View: Current Partnering’s Deal Metrics – the latest deal trend infographics for life science deal making

View: Current Partnering’s Big Pharma Deal Making Scorecard – latest trends in big pharma deal making activity

Signup: Current Partnering Dealmakers Update – weekly newsletter providing the latest life science industry deal news, deal making trends, partnering events – sign up now

Signup: Current Agreements Deals Review – monthly newsletter - reviewing the previous month’s life science deal making – partnering, M&A and financing – sign up now

View: Top 50 pharma – overview of top 50 pharmaceutical companies by revenue – partnering activity, deal news, partnering deal talk

View: Top 50 biotech – overview of top 50 biotechnology companies by revenue – partnering activity, deal news, partnering deal talk


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