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GSK pipeline fuelled by purchases

Published on 29/10/03 at 10:05am

GlaxoSmithKline leads the industry in licensing in new drugs, buying the rights to nearly twice as many products as its rivals, according to new research.

Since 1988 GSK has in-licensed 80 drugs from other companies, according to a study by Wood Mackenzie, and more than half of these deals have occurred since 1998.

The company has trumped the in-licensing strategies of rivals such as Aventis, Eli Lilly and Bristol-Myers Squibb, who each acquired 40 products since 1988, and is well above the average of 31 among top 20 pharma companies.

GSK's productivity has been under increasing scrutiny since its merger in 2000, when it reorganised its R&D business into seven 'Centres of Excellence for Drug Discovery', in order to emulate the focus on discovery found in smaller biotech companies.

The popularity of acquiring new drugs by licensing, rather than through original research has, ironically, slowed over the past four years as increasingly competitive companies have pushed up the prices of the most promising new drugs.

But some of the biggest pharma companies now rely on licensing to replenish their product pipelines. GSK, Roche, Novartis and Aventis accounted for 50% of all licensing activity in the sector since 2001.

Just recently GSK bought the world rights, excluding the Nordic countries, to HIV treatment MIV-210 from small Swedish research company Medivir.

GSK made an initial payment of E6 million in a deal that could be worth up to E86 million for Medivir, depending on the drug's clinical performance.

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