The Upjohn Company was a pharmaceutical manufacturing firm founded in 1886 in Kalamazoo, 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.
In 1995, Upjohn merged with Pharmacia AB, to form Pharmacia & Upjohn. Today, through a series of mergers, the remainder of Upjohn is owned by Pfizer.
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.
Upjohn research is best known for the process that made possible 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 the mold Aspergillus nigercans Over the next several years a group of chemists headed by John Hogg developed a process for preparing cortisone from the soybean steroid stigmasterol. The microbiological oxygenation is a key step in this process.
Upjohn is also well known for manufacturing Xanax.
- ↑ http://www.kpl.gov/collections/LocalHistory/AllAbout/biography/Upjohn.aspx
- ↑ http://informagen.com/Resource_Informagen/report.php?mrn=112
- ↑ V. VanRheenen, R. C. Kelly and D. Y. Cha Tetrahedron Lett. 1976, 1973-1976. (doi:10.1016/S0040-4039(00)78093-2)
See Upjohn Co. v. United States (449 U.S. 383) (1981)