Glaxo’s arthritis drug reaches two key targets

Billy Bambrough
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GSK boss Sir Andrew Witty will step down in March next year (Source: Getty)

Pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline has said it is on target to meet regulatory requirements for a new arthritis medication.

GSK yesterday announced its third phase study for sirukumab, an antibody designed for patients with severely active rheumatoid arthritis, met its two most important targets.

The study showed that joint damage was significantly lessened among sirukumab-treated patients, and there was a minimum 20 per cent improvement in rheumatoid arthritis symptoms for more than half of patients by week 16.

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“This study showed that sirukumab inhibited the progression of joint damage and improved the signs and symptoms of disease, disability and quality of life measures, said Paul-Peter Tak, GSK’s chief immunology officer and senior vice president for research and developments pipeline.

“These effects were seen with both the 100mg dose taken every two weeks and the 50mg dose taken every four weeks.”

In April, GSK reported sales rose to £6.23bn, up 11 per cent, in the first quarter on last year, generating core earnings per share (EPS) of 19.8p.

The UK pharmaceuticals group is undergoing a turnaround and the latest results may go some way to proving outgoing chief executive Andrew Witty’s plan could work out.

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Witty is keen for the company to split its focus between consumer health and new drugs. However, some activist investors have claimed it’s an inefficient way to run the drug giant and it should be broken up.

This will be Witty’s final year in charge of the company. He announced he will step down next March after nine years at the helm.

The new choice of CEO is expected to signal the direction of the company, though is unlikely to be named before the autumn.

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