The company had its roots from a national centre set up in 1946 for the development and manufacture of radioactive materials for peacetime uses in medicine, scientific research and industry. This centre originated in the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) but in 1971 was split out into The Radiochemical Centre Ltd. The company 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, but is still owned by Johnson & Johnson.
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.
The global headquarters of GE Healthcare is situated in Little Chalfont (near the market town of Amersham, hence the name), Buckinghamshire, England, and, as such, is the first GE business unit headquarters to be situated outside the United States.
Amersham's former business segments have become two business segments of GE Healthcare: GE Healthcare Medical Diagnostics and GE Healthcare Life Sciences, respectively.
- "The findings of NII's assessment of Amersham plc's 'site' periodic safety review". HM Nuclear Installations Inspectorate. April 2002. Retrieved 12 June 2009.
- Walter C. Patterson (1985). Going Critical: An Unofficial History of British Nuclear Power (PDF). Paladin. ISBN 0-586-08516-5. Retrieved 12 June 2009.
- "Amersham plc – Our Heritage". Archived from the original on 2 February 2004. Retrieved 2 February 2004.
- "General Electric buys Amersham". BBC. 10 October 2003. Retrieved 12 June 2009.