In 1961 Janssen Pharmaceutica joined the Johnson & Johnson group and is now part of the company's worldwide research and development centre, the Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research and Development (J&J PRD) which conducts research and development activities related to a wide range of human medical disorders, including mental illness, neurological disorders, anaesthesia and analgesia, gastrointestinal disorders, fungal infection, allergies and cancer.
Dr. Paul Janssen founded his own research laboratory in 1953 on the third floor of the building in the Statiestraat, still within the Richter-Eurpharma company of his father. In 1955, he and his team developed their first drug: Neomeritine (ambucetamide), an antispasmodic found to be particularly effective for the relief of menstrual pain. On 5 April 1956, the name of the company was changed in NV Laboratoria Pharmaceutica Dr. C. Janssen (named after Dr. Constant Janssen). On 27 April 1957, the company opened a new research facility in Beerse, but the move to Beerse would not be completed until 1971-1972. On 2 May 1958, the research department in Beerse became a separate legal entity, the N.V. Research Laboratorium Dr. C. Janssen.
On 24 October 1961, the company was acquired by the American group Johnson & Johnson. The negotiations with Johnson & Johnson were led by Frans Van den Bergh, head of the Board of Directors. In 1964, on 10 February, the name was changed to Janssen Pharmaceutica N.V. and the seat of the company in Turnhout was also transferred to Beerse. The company was led by Paul Janssen, Bob Stouthuysen and Frans Van Den Bergh. When, in 1971-1972 the pharmaceutical production also came to Beerse, the move from Turnhout was completed.
Janssen Pharmaceutica expanded worldwide; in 1990, it had already 3000 employees in Belgium, further expanding up to 4600 in 2004. In 2004 there worked about 28000 people for Janssen Pharmaceutica worldwide.
Janssen Pharmaceutica from the beginning emphasized as its core activity research for the development of new drugs. The research department which was established in Beerse in 1957, developed into a large research campus. In 1987, the Janssen Research Foundation (JRF) was founded which performs research into new drugs, also in other laboratories around the globe. Janssen Pharmaceutica became the Flemish company with the largest budget for research and development. Beside the headquarters in Beerse with its research departments, pharmaceutical production and the administrative departments, Janssen Pharmaceutica in Belgium still has offices in Berchem (Janssen-Cilag), a chemical factory in Geel, and Janssen Biotech in Olen.
The Chemical Production plant in Geel, makes the active ingredients for the company’s medicines. In 1975, the first plant of a new chemical factory Plant I was established in Geel, Plant II was opened in 1977, Plant III' in 1984, and Plant IV in 1995. In 1999 the remaining chemical poduction in Beerse would be transferred to Geel. About 80% of its active components are manufactured here. The site in Geel also manufactures about two-thirds of the worldwide chemical production of the pharmaceutical sector of Johnson & Johnson. In 1995, the Center for Molecular Design (CMD) was founded by Paul Janssen and Paul Lewi.
In 1999, clinical research and non-clinical development become a global organization within Johnson & Johnson. In 2001, part of the research activities was transferred to the United States with the reorganization of research activities in the Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research Development (JJPRD) organization. The research activities of the Janssen Research Foundation (JRF) and the R.W. Johnson Pharmaceutical Research Institute (PRI) (United States) were merged into the new global research organization. A new building for pharmaceutical development is completed in Beerse in 2001. In 2002, a new logistics and informatics centre is opened at a new site, Beerse 2. In 2003 two new research buildings are constructed, the Discovery Research Center (DRC), and the Drug Safety Evaluation Center (DSEC). On 27 October 2004, the Dr. Paul Janssen Research Center, for discovery research, was inaugurated.
The success of Janssen Pharmaceutica is commonly attributed to the vision of its founder, who himself was a brilliant scientist, but was also surrounded by talented and motivated employees, both scientifically and commercially. Dr. Paul Janssen created an environment which stimulated the creativity of his research workers.
In 1985, Janssen Pharmaceutica was the first Western pharmaceutical company to set up a pharmaceutical factory in the People's Republic of China (Xi'an). Already in 1983, Janssen had signed a cooperation contract to modernise products in an existing, but old, chemical factory in Hanzhong (in the province Shaanxi) and to produce the active compound of some Janssen products, such as mebendazole. Paul Appermont and Joos Horsten were responsible for the project.
In 1976 Paul Janssen had met the Lebanese-American doctor George Shafik Hatem (1912-1988) who was known in China under the name Ma Haide. Paul Janssen met with Ma Haide for three days in 1976, and decided to start a business in China right after the Cultural Revolution (1967-1976) and the opening to the west by Deng Xiaoping in 1978. The first factory was set up by Joos Horsten in Hanzhong, after which the second and larger factory followed in X'ian.
Janssen Pharmaceutica has developed and brought to the market about 70 new active substances (NCE), of which the most well-known are (name may differ):
Five drugs of Janssen Pharmaceutica, in the course of time, were put on the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines: