GlaxoSmithKline drops out of Ebola vaccine development as R&D shifts resources to franchise drugs
GSK’s R&D organization has a new set of priorities — which doesn’t include Ebola vaccines.
The pharma giant has handed over experimental vaccines for two varieties of Ebola as well as the Marburg virus that they were forced to shelve after the last big outbreak in Africa ran its course from 2014 to 2016.
The Sabin Vaccine Institute will now take over the work as a new outbreak spurs headlines around the world. GSK is doing the handover for free; no money is exchanging hands. And the NIH’s vaccine research group is stepping in to partner on the development work — shouldering much of the cost.
The transfer of rights to the vaccines comes as GSK has been remaking its R&D group under Hal Barron, devoting resources to its pipeline in a quest to build a reliable group of franchise drug candidates. Ebola vaccines, though, aren’t going to be big moneymakers at GSK, which has been grappling with retooling a weak pipeline.
That new set of R&D priorities is requiring the lion’s share of resources at GSK, which has had one of the most active charitable R&D efforts in the industry. That, however, may well be over.
The hand off on Ebola comes as Merck provides the one experimental vaccine now in common use in Africa to stem the latest epidemic. That preference has left J&J’s vaccine on the shelf, though Uganda has now begun a large field test to see how it works in a threatened population.
Social image: GSK, AP Images