GlaxoSmithKline plc. (ADR)(NYSE:GSK) has terminated a licensing agreement for the development of Ionis Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ:IONS) antisense therapies, Inotersen and IONIS-FB –LRx. The move comes as the British pharma continues to weigh the future of a number of its rare disease businesses, as part of a restructuring spearheaded by CEO, Emma Walmsley.
GlaxoSmithKline-Ionis Pharmaceuticals Collaboration
The ax comes even on GlaxoSmithKline paying Ionis $35 million seven years ago, for rights to up to six antisense assets. The giant drug maker did inject an additional $50 million in collaboration revenue as part of a clinical program on TTR amyloidosis.
GlaxoSmithKline withdrawal is a big blow given that Ionis Pharmaceuticals could have leveraged its expertise and connections to gain regulatory approval for inotersen in the US and the EU.
Ionis dropped in the market after GlaxoSmithKline decided to opt out on the development of the two drugs. However, the stock has since bounced back on the company reaffirming the two drugs prospects ahead of a proposed approval filling for inotersen.
“We are pleased to move forward these two important drugs ourselves. We are prepared to independently advance inotersen and remain on track to file for marketing approval of inotersen in the U.S. and EU this year,” said Lynne Parshall Ionis Pharmaceutical Chief Operating Officer.
Ionis Pharmaceuticals is currently pursuing partners to commercialize inotersen.
GlaxoSmithKline has also spared two other drugs that it is developing in partnership with Ionis. The two programs IONIS-HBVRx and IONIS-HBLV-LRx target Hepatitis BM
GlaxoSmithKline action underscores the sweeping changes that could be in the pipeline. Walmsley has already confirmed plans to cull more than 30 drug development programs as she moves to trim the company’s expenditure and areas of focus. The plans will also result in the divestiture of up to 130 drug brands with sales of almost £500 million.
Walmsley’s ambitious plans seek to transform GSK into a leaner business that is able to fast track the development of blockbuster drugs while prioritizing growth in the US. The restructuring also seeks to accrue £1 billion in cost saving. The executive plans to invest four fifths of R&D expenditure on therapies with more profit potential.