GSK has offered to pay up to $3.3bn (£2.6bn) for a US vaccine maker, after the pandemic pushed the importance of biotechnology to the top of the healthcare agenda.
The British pharmaceutical giant is set to pay $2.1bn (£1.6bn) upfront, and up to $1.2bn (£951m) more if the biopharmaceutical firm Affinivax meets specified development milestones, GSK said in a statement this morning.
Affinivax, based in Boston, focuses on vaccines which target pneumococcal disease, which includes pneumonia, meningitis, bloodstream infections and milder diseases such as sinusitis.
Chief scientific officer and president of research and development (R&D) at GSK, Dr Hal Barron, said the proposed acquisition, which is expected to close in the third quarter, will strengthen its vaccines R&D pipeline, as well as “provides access to a new, potentially disruptive technology”.
“We look forward to working with the many talented people at Affinivax to combine our industry-leading development, manufacturing, and commercialisation capabilities to make this exciting new technology available to those in need.”
It comes off the back of London-headquartered GSK hiring a Pfizer vaccine executive in November last year, after failing to bring a Covid-19 jab to the market during the pandemic.
GSK poached Pfizer vaccine lead Phil Dormitzer, who joined the company as global head of vaccines and R&D effective, having been vice president and chief scientific officer of the rival pharmaceutical giant.
Dormitzer headed up the team which produced Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine, one of the most widely used vaccines in Britain.
Laura Hoy, Equity Analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said the acquisition was an effort to “pad out” GSK’s pipeline of late-stage drugs.
“The group’s planning to rely on growth from these niche medicines to support its ambitions for five per cent compound annual sales growth, and this acquisition could be the first of many as the group looks to improve its portfolio.
“While this marks a step in the right direction with regard to the group’s strategy, we’re mindful that owning the treatment and making money from it are two very different things. Late-stage drugs often fail to clear the final hurdle, so the Affinivax purchase may not end up moving the needle at all.”