GlaxoSmithKline Acquires US Vaccine Maker For Upto $3.3 Bln

British drug company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L) will buy Boston-based vaccine developer Affinivax in a deal worth $2.1 billion, as per press releases issued by both the two companies on early Tuesday.

As per the deal, GlaxoSmithKline will pay the vaccine maker up to $1.2 billion more if certain milestones are arrived at in Affinivax’s impending clinical trials for a new pneumococcal vaccine.

This is the UK pharma giant’s second major deal in the last two months and it opens up the pharma giant’s access to Affinivax’s roster of next-generation vaccines.

The US vaccine maker has developed a multiple antigen presenting system, which creates vaccines that train the immune system to know multiple pathogens at the same time and create protective anti-bodies and T cells. The company made use of this technology in developing a vaccine to prevent pneumococcal infections, such as pneumonia and meningitis.

The company is moving on to a late-stage trial in adults over 50 after receiving good results in an earlier study, and is also starting paediatric trials this year.

Commenting on the deal, Hal Barron, GSK’s chief scientific officer, said that the acquisition would boost the company’s vaccines pipeline and expand the UK drug maker’s presence in the Boston area, which is a prominent force in the global biotech field. “We look forward to working with the many talented people at Affinivax to combine our industry-leading development, manufacturing and commercialization capabilities to make this exciting new technology available,” he added.

The acquisition follows GSK’s plans to buy blood cancer specialist Sierra Oncology for 1.5 billion pounds in April, as part of plans to strengthen its drug pipeline after facing pressure from activist investors like US hedge fund Elliott Management.

GSK is also planning to spin off its consumer health division into a new company known as Haleon in July. This may make the vaccines and pharmaceuticals divisions more exposed to investor scrutiny but will also bring the company investment of about 7 billion pounds to invest in its drug pipeline.

Steven Brugger, Affinivax’s chief executive, said that the company had created a pipeline of new vaccines over eight years from the initial development of the platform at Boston Children’s Hospital. About the acquisition, he said, ” GSK’s significant capabilities would help it develop vaccines that combat novel and resistant infectious diseases for which there are no effective immunization strategies available today.”

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