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GSK deploys R&D outreach

GlaxoSmithKline has thrown open its doors to potential R&D partners as it looks to establish stronger drug discovery tie ups, through the creation of a new centre of excellence

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has thrown open its doors to potential R&D partners as it looks to establish stronger drug discovery tie ups with biotech and small- to medium-sized pharma companies through the creation of a new centre of excellence.

The company also hopes that the creation of the Centre of Excellence for External Drug Discovery (CEEDD) will allow it to effectively share out its own research with external groups, including academic institutions.

ìR&D's front-end capabilities are generating more targets and compounds than the organisation has internal resources to develop,î the company said in a statement. ìBy sharing some of these assets for developmentÖ assets that might otherwise have to wait for development can be moved forward.î

The new unit will differ from GSK's seven existing drug discovery research units, each of which employs 400 to 600 staff and focuses on a particular diseases or therapy area. The CEEDD will comprise a small internal management team but will rely primarily on external scientific resources. It will have its own budget and portfolio as with the other GSK centres.

GSK spokeswoman, Alice Hunt, said the new unit would help the company to ìprioritise the drug discovery processî.

The move is the latest indication of the growing importance of links between biotech companies and big pharma. According to a recent KPMG report, biotechs are finding themselves increasingly on a level playing field with pharma groups, which are more prepared to take risks to gain ownership of drug discovery projects.

ìBiotech firms are negotiating deals that give them higher ownership levels and more long-term involvement in a drug,î commented Stephen Oxley, European head of pharmaceuticals at KPMG.

Dr Maxine Gowen, who has been with GSK for 13 years, will head the new CEEDD unit. She was formerly president of the company's venture capital business SR One.

In a recent research report, analysts Florent Cespedes and Jerome Berton with Natexis Bleichroeder, wrote that GSK's drug development programme was well stocked and was anticipating the results of 15 clinical trials by the end of 2005.

`We estimate that GSK finds itself at the dawn of a positive era, with likely earnings growth at least in line with the world pharmaceuticals market in 2005 and even higher thereafter,' they wrote.

30th September 2008

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