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GlaxoSmithKline to open biotech research centre

Published on 12/11/03 at 11:55am

GlaxoSmithKline is to create a new drug discovery group focused on biopharmaceuticals to capitalise on the potential of its large molecule candidates.

Around 350 scientists will begin working for the new Centre of Excellence for Drug Discovery (CEDD) by the end of this year, and will be based across sites in Stevenage and Beckenham in the UK and Upper Merion near Philadelphia in the US.

Following the merger of Smithkline Beecham and GlaxoWellcome in 2001, the new company reorganised its R&D around six CEDDs which manage the progression of compounds in the middle-state of the pipeline.

Investors have been sceptical about the ability of the new semi-autonomous centres to increase productivity, with GSK forced to in-licence more drugs than any of it competitors to bolster its weak pipeline.

The company is now confident the system is paying dividends, with more than 20 new chemical entities in the make or break phase II trial stage, the result of a doubling of productivity in early stage research.

"The CEDDs that were created at the formation of GSK have enabled sharp productivity gains," said Dr Takeda Yamada, chairman Research and Development, GSK. "We will now bring the well-defined accountability and entrepreneurial drive that characterise our CEDDs to the promise of our biopharmaceutical portfolio. We intend to become an industry leader in providing physicians and their patients with novel biopharmaceutical therapies."

The new CEDD's focus on technology differs from the disease-specific work carried out in the other centres in the US and Europe. The areas are: cardiovascular and urogenital (Upper Merion), metabolic and viral (Research Triangle Park) microbial (Upper Providence) musculoskeletal and cancer (Upper Merion) neurological and gastrointestinal; psychiatric (Verona) and respiratory and inflammatory (Stevanage).

The company will host a long-awaited R&D day on 3 December, 2003 when investors hope a number of promising pipeline developments will be unveiled, including potential blockbusters to replace key GSK products facing generic competition.

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