Amersham plc was a manufacturer of radiopharmaceutical products, to be used in diagnostic and therapeutic nuclear medicine procedures. The company became GE Healthcare following a takeover in 2003, which is based at the original site in Amersham, Buckinghamshire.
|The Radiochemical Centre at Amersham|
The Radiochemical Centre Ltd
Amersham International plc
|Fate||Acquired by GE Healthcare|
Chilcote House in Amersham was first used for extraction of radium from radium concentrates in 1940, under Walter Patrick Grove. Over the next four years over 500 kilograms of radium bromide was produced, to be used to make luminous dials and instruments. In 1946 the facility was taken over by the Ministry of Supply and it became known as the “national centre for the processing and distribution of radium, radon and artificial radioactive substances for scientific, medical and industrial purposes”. With a new focus on healthcare and industrial applications, the site was expanded and by 1949 when the name changed to "The Radiochemical Centre (TRC), Amersham", production included radium gas capsules for cancer treatment and carbon-14. The following year it became an outstation of the Atomic Energy Research Establishment (UKAERA) at Harwell, processing materials produced in its reactors.
By the 1960s, TRC had over 1000 catalogue items, using over 100 isotopes and exporting to 60 countries. A cyclotron was installed, the first for medical isotope production. With restructuring of the UKAERA in 1971, TRC became a limited company. By this time TRC had several international subsidiaries, and in 1976 work began on a second production site in Cardiff. The Radiochemical Centre Limited became Amersham International Limited in 1981, and it was privatised in 1982 under the name Amersham International plc. It was the first company to be privatised by the Thatcher government.
In the early 1990s, the in-vitro diagnostic assay business was divested to a joint venture with Eastman Kodak called Amerlite Diagnostics Ltd, this was later wholly acquired by Eastman Kodak and renamed Kodak Clinical Diagnostics Ltd. This business was sold by Kodak to Johnson & Johnson and became known as Johnson & Johnson Clinical Diagnostics Ltd. The business is now called Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics Ltd.
In 1997 Pharmacia Biotech (Sweden), then owned by Pharmacia & Upjohn, was fused with Amersham Life Science and renamed Amersham Pharmacia Biotech. The Pharmacia name of this subsidiary was later dropped when Pharmacia & Upjohn sold its share of the company to Amersham plc, and changed its name to Amersham Biosciences in 2001.
In 1997, Amersham merged with Nycomed (Norway) to form Nycomed Amersham plc. In 1999, the Nycomed Pharma subsidiary was sold to Nordic Capital, and in 2001 Nycomed Amersham plc was renamed to Amersham plc.
Amersham's former business segments became GE Healthcare Medical Diagnostics and GE Healthcare Life Sciences.
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