GlaxoSmithKline is one of Europe's leading pharmaceutical developers but like its peers, it has been wrestling with the triple threats of generic competition, ever more rigorous regulatory scrutiny, and the challenge of keeping its drug development pipeline filled. GSK's problems were, arguably, more serious than some of its rivals, resulting in its demotion from the coveted position as global #2 several years ago. It now lags behind several Swiss and American rivals by overall revenues. Recently, the group has been tweaking its broadly diversified portfolio in order to specialise on a smaller number of key pharmaceutical segments, primarily respiratory and HIV drugs (the latter from specialist unit ViiV Healthcare) and vaccines. By US$ equivalent sales, GSK had six blockbuster brands in 2019: HIV treatments Triumeq (sales of £2.5bn) and Tivicay (£1.7bn); respiratory drugs Seretide/Advair (£1.7bn), the Ellipta family (£2.3bn) and Ventolin (£938m); and shingles vaccine Shingrix (£1.8bn). Another respiratory drug, Nucala, is likely to reach blockbuster status in 2020. HIV drugs now account for 27% of the group's pharmaceutical sales and respiratory products for 18%. Other significant pharma products, though now mostly in slow decline post-patent, include Lamictal, Augmentin and Avodart. Key vaccines include pediatric vaccine Infanrix/Pediarix and Bexsero against meningitis as well as vaccines against hepatitis and influenza. In 2019, GSK acquired oncology biotech developer Tesoro for $5.0bn, though the new addition's financial contribution in the year was only small. Greater specialisation has resulted in stronger financial performance. Helped by the addition of Pfizer's OTC division, group revenues hit a new high in 2019 of £33.8bn, while net income jumped 30% to £5.3bn, boosted by a large gain from the sale of consumer healthcare beverage Horlicks. Pharma sales were up only modestly at £17.6bn, but vaccines surged by 21% to £7.2bn. The group has also dramatically expanded its position in OTC with a series of major deals. GSK Consumer Healthcare is now the global #1 in its sector (see separate page), but is expected to be spun off as a separate company by 2022. Former OTC chief Emma Walmsley became group CEO in 2017, the first woman ever to lead a Big Pharma company.
Capsule checked 2nd April 2019
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Adbrands Daily Update 15th Apr 2020: Two of the world's largest vaccine manufacturers - Glaxo SmithKline and Sanofi - announced an unprecedented partnership to develop a product to fight Coronavirus. Sanofi is to revive an antigen that was originally created to battle SARS, while GSK will contribute its "adjuvant" technology which boosts the immune response in recipients. Crucially, their combined manufacturing capacity could allow them to create hundreds of millions of doses by mid-2021. The two companies are respectively the global leader in vaccines and the #4 (after Merck & Pfizer). However, first the companies will have to ensure that any product they develop works. This will require rigorous testing that is unlikely to yield results until the end of this year. "Starting with proven pandemic technologies definitely improves the odds," said Roger Connor, president of GSK's vaccines division. "The world wants to see confirmation that the challenge is being solved, but as with all research there's risk involved with this." At the same time, GSK CEO Emma Walmsley stressed that multiple companies will need to develop different vaccines against the disease. "We're all hoping and we believe the world is going to need more than one vaccine as part of the solution."
Adbrands Daily Update 12th Dec 2019: Glaxo SmithKline concluded its global creative and media review. Creative duties for the global prescription drug portfolio will be consolidated between Interpublic and Publicis, both already the company's main marketing partners. There have been some changes to their respective client portfolios. IPG gets the key growth segments of oncology and vaccines, with McCann Health and MRM as lead agencies, supported by FCB Health and other group agencies. An as-yet-unnamed Publicis Groupe unit will handle the substantial respiratory drug business. Meanwhile, WPP's CMI/Compas retains GSK's US pharmaceutical media. GSK's OTC business transferred to Publicis Media's newly created PlatformGSK unit at the beginning of the year. Following completion of GSK Consumer Healthcare's acquisition of the Pfizer OTC portfolio, PlatformGSK also now takes control of those brands from Carat and other agencies.
Adbrands Daily Update 5th Dec 2018: Hot on the heels of its deal to sell its nutritional drinks portfolio to Unilever, GSK signed off on the purchase of US drug developer Tesaro for $5.1bn. That company's portfolio includes Zejula, a new type of cancer drug known as a PARP inhibitor, competing with AstraZeneca's Lynparza. It marks GSK's return to the oncology market after it sold its previous collection of drugs to Novartis four years ago.
Adbrands Weekly Update 11th Oct 2018: Not the best of weeks for WPP. Four big reviews ended in partial or total losses for the group. First up was GlaxoSmithKline's global media. GroupM handled most of the account worldwide, split between Mediacom, Mindshare and Essence. Omnicom's PHD had the US, Australia and New Zealand. However, the pharma group has chosen Publicis to carry forward the account, in a newly created dedicated unit, PlatformGSK.
Adbrands Weekly Update 24th May 2018: Trade source Fierce Pharma has compiled an interesting table of the top drugs sold in the US over the past 25 years, using cumulative sales figures. It passed its peak several years ago now, but Pfizer's cholesterol drug Lipitor is still the clear leader with total sales to-date of almost $95bn. It could soon be toppled, though, by AbbVie's Humira, a treatment for auto-immune conditions. Sales are already almost $76bn, and Humira is expected to become the first drug ever to top $20bn in sales in a single year before its patent expires in 2023. In third place for now is Nexium, from AstraZeneca, for acid reflux and ulcers. It too is past its peak, but cumulative sales currently stand at over $72bn. GSK's Advair and Amgen's Enbrel rounded out the top five at $69bn and $68bn respectively. (See full feature here).
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