[Ip-health] BioCentury: Retiring Witty reveals new GSK initiatives

Zack Struver zack.struver at keionline.org
Fri Mar 18 11:03:41 PDT 2016


Retiring Witty reveals new GSK initiatives

GlaxoSmithKline plc (LSE:GSK; NYSE:GSK) said Andrew Witty will retire as
CEO on March 31, 2017. The pharma's board said it will seek a successor.
Witty became CEO in 2008.

In his first speech after announcing the news, Witty previewed GSK's new
commitments to global health and to novel pricing models. Speaking at the
Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., Witty
said GSK has made a "substantial commitment" to create a permanent source
of vaccine research funding for potential pandemic pathogens. He said the
company is close to agreements with "governments around the world" to
create an R&D facility for potential pandemic threats. It would be
"dedicated to developing vaccine after vaccine for likely but unpredictable
Ebolas of the future."

Witty also advocated "de-linkage" of R&D costs from drug prices, especially
for rare disease treatments. He said governments or other entities could
pay companies for R&D costs plus a specified rate of return, and companies
could then charge separately for individual "packets" of products. He added
that it is "entirely possible for different parts of the system pay for
each separately." Witty said GSK has publicly pegged its return target at

He suggested that GSK may attempt to test this model for autologous gene
therapy GSK2696273 to treat severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) due to
adenosine deaminase deficiency (ADA-SCID). In May, GSK submitted an MAA to
EMA for the therapy (see BioCentury Extra, May 5).

Witty challenged the pharmaceutical industry to "do something really
serious in terms of access to oncology agents around the world," and said
GSK hopes to make its future cancer therapies available at low cost in the
poorest countries. "I am talking about the next generation of breakthrough
medicines in oncology potentially going into a patent pool for the least
developed countries," he said. The poorest countries would have
royalty-free access to drugs donated to the patent pool, he said.

Witty also championed advance market commitments (AMCs) -- legally binding
contracts to purchase specific volumes of drugs at specified prices -- to
stimulate development of vaccines and drugs for diseases that primarily
affect people in poor countries. Witty cited the success of an AMC in
spurring development and widespread use of Synflorix vaccine against
pneumococcal disease, and said GSK is cutting the price of Synflorix in
developing countries by 10%.

Zack Struver, Communications and Research Associate
Knowledge Ecology International
zack.struver at keionline.org
Twitter: @zstruver <https://twitter.com/zstruver>
Office: +1 (202) 332-2670 Cell: +1 (914) 582-1428

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