In the mid 1960’s, three scientists – Leif Wide, Rolf Axén and Jerker Porath – convinced Pharmacia’s management to collaborate with them for the commercial development of Pharmacia’s separation medium, Sephadex, as the solid phase in immunodiagnostic testing. This was the first step toward the development of Phadia AB.
Simultaneously, immunoglobulin E (or IgE) was discovered by two separate research teams, one in the USA, and one at Uppsala University Hospital (S.G.O Johansson, Hans Bennich and Leif Wide). At Uppsala University Hospital, the team developed a method to measure the levels of the substance in blood samples, and eventually, a connection was made between IgE antibodies and allergic symptoms. These findings were presented to Pharmacia with the intent of creating a commercial allergy test. With the help of the Sandwich technology, developed by Leif Wide, the product Phadebas RAST was established, and with it, the leading position Phadia, now Thermo Fisher Scientific, still holds in allergy testing.
The following is a short summary of the journey from a small R&D group within Pharmacia, to the independent, world-leading company Phadia, now Thermo Fisher Scientific, is today.
- Thermo Fisher Scientific acquires Phadia
- Full acquisiton of VBC Genomics.
- The British finance company, Cinven, is the new main owner.
- Minority owner of Aerocrine, 5%.
- Acquisition of parts of VBC Genomics.
- The new company name Phadia is introduced.
- ImmunoCAP Rapid, the first allergy point of care test for primary care.
- Launch of EliA on ImmunoCAP 250.
- High capacity and automation makes it ideal for labs performing 80 to 400 autoimmune tests per day.
- Pharmacia Diagnostics AB is established as a new, independent company in Uppsala.
- PPM Venture and Triton are the new, main owners.
- ImmunoCAP 250 in introduced – now the ImmunoCAP instrument family is complete, with systems for laboratories of all sizes.
- Pfizer acquires Pharmacia.
- The new parent company wants to divest Pharmacia Diagnostics.
- ImmunoCAP 1000 is launched in the rest of the world.
- Concept of interpreting quantitative specific IgE antibody results, in relation to the probability for allergic symptoms, is presented.
- ImmunoCAP 1000 JP, a system specially designed for the large laboratories in Japan, is introduced.
- EliA, a new technology enabling automated handling of autoimmunity tests with ImmunoCAP 100E, is introduced.
- Phadiatop Infant, a yes/no atopy test specially designed for children, is launched.
- Pharmacia & Upjohn acquires Monsanto.
- The new corporate group is called Pharmacia Corporation.
- The name Pharmacia Diagnostics is reintroduced yet again.
- ImmunoCAP 100E is introduced, which can also be used for autoimmunity tests.
- CDTect is divested and the efforts in the area of alcohol-related diseases is discontinued.
- The German company Elias is acquired – a company with a strong position in the testing of autoimmune diseases.
- Development of autoimmunity tests for UniCAP, as a complement to Elias’ Varelisa, begins.
- The last batches of the classic Phadebas and Phadezym RAST (RAST with an enzymatic marker instead of a radioactive one) tests are manufactured.
- Pharmacia merges with the American company Upjohn, and the name is changed to Pharmacia & Upjohn Diagnostics.
- ImmunoCAP 100 is launched as the first instrument to integrate automatic sample handling, a processor, measuring equipment and data evaluation in one.
- ImmunoCAP chemistry is further improved.
- Procordia buys the Italian company Farmitalia Carlo Erba, and changes the name to Pharmacia.
- The name Pharmacia Diagnostics is reintroduced.
- Pharmacia Biosystems is dissolved.
- Diagnostic operations become part of Kabi Pharmacia, now known as Kabi Pharmacia Diagnostics.
- MaxiCAP is introduced.
- CDTect, a test to demonstrate long-term alcohol consumption is launched, and alcohol-related diseased becomes a new area of operations.
- AutoCAP, a new automatic processor for Pharmacia CAP System is introduced.
- Procordia, a Swedish company, acquires Pharmacia and merges the pharmaceutical operations with its own pharma company, Kabi.
- The new company is called Kabi Pharmacia.
- Pharmacia Biosystems is formed, a sister company comprised of Pharmacia Diagnostics, Pharmacia Biotech and Pharmacia Biosensor.
- Initiation of a rationalization program to improve profitability.
- The focus on allergy diagnostics is renewed, and all operations in Wallac Oy and Electro-Nucleonics Inc. (ENI) are divested or closed down.
- Acquisition of the American company Electro-Nucleonics Inc. (ENI).
- Pharmacia Diagnostics aims to begin supplying not only reagents, but also instruments and software.
- The development of Pharmacia CAP System is in full swing, ENI is believed to have key knowledge of automation.
- ENI is also experienced in the area of blood virus testing (HIV and hepatitis).
- Pharmacia CAP System is launched, the “second-generation RAST” which replaces the old paper disc with a new solid phase, ImmunoCAP.
- The new system must first be introduced in semi-automatic form, since the automatic processor initially fails to meet requirements.
- Phadiatop, a yes/no test for inhalation allergy, is launched.
- The Finnish company, Wallac Oy, is acquired.
- Pharmacia plans to use the company to create a large immunodiagnostic company, with a market leading position not only in allergy testing, but in immunodiagnostics in general.
- Wallac brings the DELFIA system with it to the company, which will be used in the next five years by Pharmacia Diagnostics to increase its clinical span.
- Phadezym RAST (RAST with an enzymatic marker instead of a radioactive one), and Phadebas CEA PRIST (the first cancer test) are introduced.
- Pharmacia’s pharmaceutical division launches allergen extracts for immunotherapy, based on Allergon’s high quality source material.
- Construction of Pharmacia Diagnostics/ plant in Fyrislund, Uppsala begins.
- Phadebas IgE PRIST is introduced, an improved total IgE test.
- Pharmacia Diagnostics becomes a division company within the Pharmacia group.
- Further tests in other clinical areas are introduced, including Phadebas ß2-micro Test and Phadebas TSH Test, among others.
- Phadebas RAST is launched.
- Now, for the first time, it is possible to measure IgE antibodies to specific allergy inducing substances, to determine not only that the patient is allergic, but also what the patient is allergic to.
- RAST uses a small paper disc as solid phase, and a radioactive marker.
- The product quickly becomes a great success, establishing the leading position that Pharmacia Diagnostics holds in the area of allergy testing, which remains strong today.
- Initially the RAST panel includes just a handful of allergens, but is eventually enlarged to over 500.
- Phadebas IgE Test, the first allergy test, is introduced.
- This tests for total IgE, which means it measures the total amount of IgE in the blood.
- Phadebas Insulin Test, the first product based on Leif Wide’s ideas and one of the first commercial RIS tests in the world is introduced.
- Pharmacia acquires Allergon AB, a Swedish company that will become a world-leading producer of allergen source material and a cornerstone in Pharmacia Diagnostics’ allergy tests.
- The first product, Phadebas Amylase Test, a test for the enzyme amylase, is introduced.
- This test was the biggest diagnostics product for Pharmacia, and after 30 years, is still on the market.
- The discovery of IgE was made in Uppsala by researchers S.G.O Johansson, Hans Bennich and Leif Wide.
- The first scientists in Pharmacia’s diagnostics group are hired and the operations begin.