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Remicade maker Centocor Ortho Biotech changing name

The name “Centocor” is disappearing from the region’s biotechnology landscape.

Centocor Ortho Biotech Inc. of Horsham said Wednesday it has changed its name, effective immediately, to Janssen Biotech Inc.

Company officials said the new moniker is part of a global effort to unite the Janssen Pharmaceutical Cos. — part of Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) — around the world under a common identity, which will increase “collaboration amongst these companies to provide even greater innovation, value and solutions to individuals living with serious medical conditions.”

Centocor was originally founded in 1979 by Dutch biochemist Hubert Schoemaker and entrepreneur Michael Wall, and was based in Malvern for most of its existence. Johnson & Johnson acquired Centocor in 1999 for $4.9 billion.

The company moved its headquarters to Horsham in 2003. It merged with Johnson & Johnson Ortho Biotech unit in 2008.

Centocor — largely because it was generating revenues from its diagnostic products division — survived the failure of its first new drug candidate, an anti-bacteria treatment called Centoxin, which was designed to treat sepsis. In 1992, the FDA returned Centocor’s new drug application for Centoxin and asked the company to conduct additional testing of the compound. Centocor halted the additional testing in early 1993 because of adverse events during the clinical trial.

The company hit paydirt with Remicade, which was first approved in 1998 as a treatment for Crohn’s disease, a disorder of the gastrointestinal tract, and later for rheumatoid arthritis. Today, Remicade, which has generated billions of dollars in sales for Centocor, is approved for 15 indications across three disease areas: gastroenterology, rheumatology and dermatology.

Centocor was a winner in the Philadelphia Business Journal inaugural Life Sciences awards program last year.

“This is an exciting time for our family of companies as we come together under one name,” said Robert Bazemore, president of what is now Janssen Biotech Inc. “The Janssen name (which comes from physician-scientist and entrepreneur Dr. Paul Janssen, who died in 2003) has been used by our affiliate companies in many markets for more than 50 years and has long been associated with high scientific ideals and ground-breaking advances. Our new name will not change our products, services, solutions or the valued relationships we have with our customers. Uniting together under a common identity will allow us to operate more effectively and efficiently with the same passion and commitment that has led us to the forefront of patient care in our therapeutic areas.”

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Kristen Fitch

Kristen Fitch

Director, Marketing