GlaxoSmithKline is set to make billions of pounds from new vaccines and medicines over the next five years as it prepares to spin off its consumer health business, bosses have said.
The pharmaceutical behemoth has more than 10 medicines and jabs in late-stage trials that could each generate sales of at least $1bn (£730m), research chief Hal Barron said – with several expected to notch up multi-billion sales figures.
Along with rival Astrazeneca – maker of the leading Covid vaccine – Glaxo is at the forefront of Britain’s world-leading life sciences industry, seen as a key growth area after Brexit.
Speaking at a healthcare conference organised by JP Morgan, Dr Barron said that Glaxo has 60 vaccines and medicines in its pipeline. These are mostly focused on infectious disease, oncology and immune mediated diseases.
A total of 25 drugs are in phase one trials where they are first tested on people, 14 are in phase two and 21 are in potentially pivotal studies, he said.
Dr Barron said a string of these treatments should be available for use by 2026, and added: “The vast majority of these assets [are] likely… first or best-in-class.”
More details will be revealed in June.
He made the comments as Glaxo marked the halfway point in a two-year £2.4bn project to untangle pharmaceutical operations from its consumer goods division, ahead of a formal break-up at the end of 2021.
Glaxo’s consumer health brands such as Sensodyne toothpaste will be merged with those of rival Pfizer, and the combined company will be spun off into a huge London-listed consumer goods business.
Many investors have welcomed the move, which will leave Glaxo’s remaining pharmaceuticals operation debt-free. It will have the firepower to invest heavily in drug discovery and development to bring new products to market and catch up with its rivals – something it has been slow to do in recent years.
The new, leaner company will focus on specialty medicine, vaccines, and the science of the immune system and genetics.
This strategy is not without risk. Building a pipeline of drug candidates takes years, failures are the norm not the exception, and GSK will no longer have a steady income stream from its consumer brands to steady the ship if and when sales fail to materialise.