Wyeth was founded in the 1860s as a small drugstore called John Wyeth and Brother. In 1931, American Home Products (AHP) purchased Wyeth from Harvard University, which had acquired a controlling interest in the firm from John Wyeth’s son and heir. Growth was fairly rapid and the company began to expand internationally. By 1944, the company had grown so much that AHP had to form Wyeth International to consolidate overseas marketing and sales.
However, it was not until the 1980s that AHP saw fit to bring about a major diversification in its product offering. To this end, Sherwood Medical was acquired in 1982, enabling AHP to capture a share of the growing medical devices market. In 1984, the company started to market ibuprofen in the US, sold under the trademark Advil.
The company continued in the same vein, with diversification coupled with extending existing product lines in the late 1980s. AHP moved into the animal healthcare market with the purchase of Bristol-Myers’ animal health division in 1987 and the acquisition of Parke-Davis Animal Health Products in 1988. AHP acquired AH Robins, along with its well-known consumer products, including Chap Stick, Dimetapp and cough syrup market leader Robitussin, in the following year.
In 1996, biopharmaceutical firm Genetics Institute became a subsidiary of AHP. Its major concern was developing human pharmaceuticals through recombinant DNA and other technologies. This was followed by the 1998 acquisition of Apollon, a biotech company specializing in DNA-based vaccine technology, and the acquisition of Solgar Vitamin and Herb Company. This new focus was also responsible for the sale of agricultural interests (including Cyanamid Agricultural Products) in 2000. The same year also saw the launch of Prevnar Pneumococcal 7-valent Conjugate Vaccine (Diphtheria CRM197 Protein) for the prevention of invasive pneumococcal disease in infants and children.
AHP collaborated with Elan for the development of a treatment for sleep disorders in 2001.
The company changed its name to Wyeth in 2002. During the same year, Wyeth signed an agreement with Baxter Healthcare selling all rights to Wyeth’s ESI Lederle generic human injectable pharmaceuticals business.
The company’s Enbrel became the first biologic product to receive approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of ankylosing spondylitis in 2003. Later in the same year, the FDA approved Enbrel as the first therapy to inhibit bone and joint damage in psoriatic arthritis patients. The drug also received a positive verdict for use as treatment to improve physical function in rheumatoid arthritis patients.
Wyeth entered into an agreement with Solvay to co-develop and co-commercialize four neuroscience compounds, most notably, bifeprunox in the first quarter of 2004.Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, a division of the company, announced later in the same year that Enbrel (etanercept) had been approved by the FDA for the treatment of adult patients (18 years or older) with chronic moderate to severe plaque psoriasis who were candidates for systemic therapy or phototherapy.
Towards the end of 2004, the company sold its Georgia- (Vermont) based infant nutrition manufacturing facility to an affiliate of PBM Products.
Wyeth purchased additional equity of Wyeth KK (WKK) Japan, a joint venture company with Takeda Pharmaceuticals, giving Wyeth 70% ownership of WKK along with full management control in 2005. In the next year, the company purchased an additional 10% stake. Now, Wyeth has 80% stake in WKK.
Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and Trubion Pharmaceuticals formed a strategic alliance for the discovery, development and commercialization of novel biopharmaceutical products to treat inflammatory disease and cancer in January 2006. The alliance will utilize Trubion’s proprietary Small Modular Immunopharmaceutical technology. Later in the same month, Wyeth reached the settlement of the litigation between Wyeth and Teva concerning Teva`s application to market a generic version of Wyeth’s Effexor XR extended release venlafaxine capsules. Also, the jury in the case of Bonnie Weston v. Wyeth in Missouri Circuit Court found in favor of Wyeth. The case was for the alleged heart valve injury from the use of the diet drugs Pondimin and Redux, once marketed by Wyeth.
In June 2006, the FDA issued an approvable letter for Lybre (90 µg levonorgestrel/20 µg ethinyl estradiol tablets), a low dose, continuous, non-cyclic combination oral contraceptive.
In January 2007, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals received an approvable letter from the FDA for Pristiq (desvenlafaxine succinate), a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor studied as a treatment for adult patients with major depressive disorder.
Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and Nautilus Biotech signed a research collaboration and license agreement to discover and develop novel recombinant Factor IX proteins for the treatment of hemophilia B in February 2007. Later in the same month, it also started research collaboration with MediVas, a biomaterials company, specializing in improved delivery of biologics to discover, develop, manufacture and commercialize novel biopharmaceuticals that extend the duration of action of recombinant factor treatments for hemophilia.
In March 2007, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and Siemens Medical Solutions’ molecular imaging division started collaborating on the development of new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease.