Monday 21 October 2019 5:48 pm

GSK continues pharmaceuticals push with $1.1bn vaccines sale

Glaxosmithkline (GSK) has today announced the sale of two travel vaccines worth up to $1.1bn (£846.9m) to Bavarian Nordic, continuing its push into the cancer drug market.

The sales of Rabipur, an anti-rabies drug, and Encipur, which is used to prevent encephalitis, to the Denmark-based biotech firm, will include an upfront payment of €301m (£258.5m), as well as milestone payments worth up to €495m.

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Roger Connor, president of global vaccines at GSK, said: “The agreement with Bavarian Nordic will enable us to commit greater resources to our key growth and to our [research and development] pipeline.”

GSK acquired the drugs from Swiss company Novartis in November 2015 as part of an asset trade for its oncology business. The drugs will continue to be manufactured at GSK’s Marburg site, with full production to be transferred to Bavarian Nordic within five years.

The sale comes as the latest step in chief executive Emma Walmsley’s drive to create a more streamlined business. Since taking over in 2017, the company has sold off a number of business units in an attempt to reinvigorate GSK’s pharmaceuticals arm. In December 2018 GSK acquired US drug specialist Tesaro for $5.1bn, its first major foray back into cancer treatments. 

In the same month, the company also announced that it would split into two businesses, one for prescription drugs and vaccines, and one for over-the-counter drugs, after forming a new joint venture with Pfizer’s consumer health unit.

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In 2018 GSK announced revenues of £5.89bn from its vaccines business.