GSK Sets Stage for Big Late-Stage Drug Events, Potential Blockbusters

GlaxoSmithKline (NYS: GSK) has taken some bold steps to reconfigure its R&D operations, tackling some of the productivity issues that have plagued Big Pharma groups. Over the next year, the London-based drug giant has many big Phase III events in store that could make its pipeline the envy of the industry.

The company plans to have key data next year on 15 late-stage programs, including findings from Phase III studies of the potential blockbuster HIV drug dolutegravir, the experimental Parkinson's treatment IPX066 and its therapeutic cancer vaccine MAGE-A3, according to an investor note from Cowen and Company analyst Steve Scala. Barron's picked up on the analyst's rosy picture of GSK's late-stage pipeline. GSK and Theravance are also advancing late-stage development of Relovair, the next-gen COPD successor to Advair, which has impressed analysts so far.

"Our long-standing concerns with Glaxo's respiratory portfolio have tempered, growth prospects are solid, and numerous pipeline-related events in 2012 differentiate Glaxo," Scala wrote in the note to investors. "While GSK's multiple clearly has moved up, it would appear at least sustainable given many potential positives and tempered risks."

GSK, of course, has leaned heavily on outside developers and partners to move forward with several of its late-stage prospects -- including Relovair, IPX066 and dolutegravir. Name almost any Big Pharma outfit and you'll find a string of external collaborations fueling their pipelines, and that has been a healthy trend for small developers in search of funds for advancing new drugs. We'll see what the year ahead holds in store for GSK on the partnering front as well.

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