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GSK to spend USD 100m on R&D in China

GlaxoSmithKline will spend USD 100m by the end of 2008 into a neuroscience research centre in China

UK newspaper, the Financial Times (FT), reports that UK-headquartered pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) will spend USD 100m by the end of 2008 into a neuroscience research centre in China.

At a presentation focused on emerging neuroscience pipeline drugs, Moncef Slaoui, GSK's chairman of R&D, has says the company will build a centre in Shanghai responsible for all the company's work on neurodegenerative diseases. The facility will be pivotal to GSK's global drug development activities, which include investigational treatments for Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Slaoui said: "For us, China is not about outsourcing and cheap labour. We don't want to give them the crumbs. It's about different science. We will link our fate to their fate. Within five to ten years we will be moving from 'made in China' to 'discovered in China'."

GSK's investment follows an increasing trend to move R&D to Asia in order to take advantage of existing R&D skills, cheaper operating costs, growing market sales, a large population for R&D study and fewer regulatory hurdles. AstraZeneca, Novartis, sanofi-aventis, Roche and NovoNordisk have already made significant R&D investment in China, with the majority concentrated in Shanghai.

Slaoui has headed up a six-month global research programme to identify ìthe next seedbed for future discoveries. He told the FT that "qualitatively and numerically, China came out on top", especially in oncology and neurology.

GSK's decision to invest was based on the estimated 63,000 holders of scientific doctorates in China, including 35,000 who trained in the west and have returned in recent years to their home country, as well as on publications in respected journals, such as Science, Cell and Neuron.

GSK has a centre in the Pudong district of Shanghai, which will be moved to provide the basis for the new centre. The company will employ 1,000 local scientists within six years, making it a leading part of the group's expanding Centre of Excellence for Drug Discovery for neuroscience, itself one of four therapy areas on which the company will focus.

According to the FT, neuroscience centres will continue to operate in the UK for neuroplasticity to treat pain, cognition and epilepsy; as well as in Italy, for psychiatry, covering depression and anxiety.

HSBC analysts maintained their "Underweight" rating for GSK, estimating the company would be able to provide positive data on half of its 12 neuroscience experimental drugs in early stage proof of principle trials.

13th December 2007

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