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GSK cancels 30 preclinical and clinical programmes

UK’s biggest pharma firm announced it will save an additional £1bn each year by 2020. 80% of the pharmaceutical R&D pipeline expenses will be directed towards two current (Respiratory and HIV/infectious diseases) and two potential (Oncology and Immuno-inflammation) priority areas.

She will focus on the “real winners”, GlaxoSmithKline’s new chief executive, Emma Walmsley, said when she presented the Q2 results of the company in late July. She laid out plans to cut nearly one in seven of the pharma group’s clinical drug development programmes. Among the 17 preclinical and 13 clinical programmes about to be stopped are treatments of hepatitis C, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, and solid tumours. Notably, also rheumatoid arthritis drug sirukumab, which has already been filed for approval and has received the brand name Plivensia, is affected. Additionally, the future of the rare diseases unit is uncertain: “The Group has also undertaken a strategic review of this unit and is now considering options for future ownership of these assets,” the company said.

Emma Walmsley, GSK’s chief executive since April, also introduced an extension of the ongoing cost reduction programme to eliminate a further £1bn in annual savings by 2020. She also plans to offload 130 non-core brands. Last week GSK announced the loss of 320 jobs from its UK operations over the next four years, mainly in the manufacturing division.

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