- British pharma GlaxoSmithKline on Tuesday opened a new vaccines R&D center in Rockville, MD, bolstering its existing development network at a time when vaccines have become an increasingly important part of its overall portfolio.
- The new site, which Glaxo acquired from Human Genome Sciences in 2012, will employ approximately 450 scientists and support staff, according to the company.
- Glaxo expects as many as 200 new jobs will be created to help support the 12 vaccines programs set to be housed at the facility, and announced plans to invest another $50 million into site development over the next two years.
In 2014, GlaxoSmithKline announced plans for a major asset swap with Novartis, sending the Swiss pharma its marketed oncology portfolio in exchange for Novartis' global vaccines business (excepting flu products).
That deal, which closed in March 2015, greatly expanded Glaxo's vaccines portfolio, notably adding the meningitis vaccine Bexsero. Sales of vaccines now account for roughly 17% of Glaxo's revenues.
The new Rockville center will complement Glaxo's existing vaccines R&D centers in Belgium and Italy and take the lead in supporting the company's shingles vaccine. Other programs at the site include vaccines for respiratory syncytial virus (in Phase 1 and Phase 2), Group B Streptococcus (in Phase 2 for maternal immunization), and dengue fever.
"Our investment here signifies our commitment to discovering and developing new vaccines across a range of pressing public health priorities, including those important here in the US. It places GSK at the heart of a dynamic and cutting edge bioscience hub in Washington, D.C.," said Luc Debruyne, president of Glaxo's Vaccines unit.
All told, Glaxo has 15 candidate vaccines in development and markets 39 vaccines across 21 different diseases.
Yet, even with such an expansive portfolio, Glaxo does face competition from companies like Merck. This fall, the company withdrew Cervarix, its vaccine for HPV-related cervical cancer, from the U.S. market because it could not compete against Merck's Gardasil.