GSK Plans Major R&D Overhaul

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Pharma major aims to focus majority of R&D capital into priority therapy areas and plans to cut approximately 30 R&D programs.

At a meeting held in London on July 26, 2017 for its second-quarter earnings, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) outlined a series of new priorities for the company, including a major overhaul of its R&D programs. Under new leadership with Emma Walmsely, who took over as CEO in April 2017, GSK’s top priority is to improve the pharmaceuticals business, particularly by strengthening the pipeline.

A key near-term focus is to maximize value from new products and three other significant new-launch opportunities: Shingrix, a potential new vaccine for shingles; Closed Triple, a new 3-in-1 respiratory medicine; and two new drug regimens in HIV.

For its pharmaceuticals pipeline, GSK has developed a priority list of assets in which to invest, but the list can change depending on the data that reads out. The company is also aiming to deploy over time 80% of its pharmaceuticals R&D capital to priority assets in two current therapy areas: respiratory and HIV/infectious diseases; and two potential areas: oncology and immuno-inflammation. Significant data are expected from these priority assets over the next three years, which will be used to inform R&D investment decisions and how best to generate value from these assets. GSK also expects to pursue disciplined business development to augment its early-stage pipeline in these priority areas.

As part of its efforts to prioritize and allocate resources in R&D, GSK is terminating development programs that are unlikely to generate sufficient returns. GSK has so far made decisions to terminate, partner, or divest more than 30 pre-clinical and clinical programs. The company has also undertaken a strategic review of its rare diseases unit and is now considering options for future ownership of these assets.

In addition, GSK is taking steps to improve the partnership between R&D and its commercial organization as well as its governance around pipeline decision-making. To achieve this, the company has established a new development advisory board and a new board scientific committee.


Beyond pharmaceuticals, GSK aims to realize further benefits from its newly scaled consumer healthcare and vaccines businesses. It is also aiming to increase investment flexibility with a series of measures to improve cash generation and clearer capital allocation priorities, according to the company.

Source: GlaxoSmithKline