GlaxoSmithKline sounds taps for a once-mighty R&D program

Sir Andrew Witty

Sir Andrew Witty

You could call it a follow-up case of an anti-inflammatory flop for GlaxoSmithKline.

A year after GSK shrugged off the failure of losmapimod in protecting high-risk heart failure patients, the pharma giant says it will now shutter its R&D effort for this drug on COPD. That news was buried in its Q3 release Wednesday morning.

Two years ago GSK had mapped out ambitious plans to put losmapimod through a huge development program, looking for data to prove that the therapy could prevent repeat heart attacks. But that fell through last fall when the pharma giant was forced to concede that the drug had proven to be a bust in the clinic.

Today, GSK says that it is also terminating the COPD work after taking a close look at Phase II data.

Losmapimod was GSK’s comeback attempt after darapladib turned out to be an embarrassing failure. The drug works by blocking the p38 MAP enzyme, which plays a role in acute inflammation.

GSK has had a difficult time in drug R&D over the past decade. Its home run swings for drugs like losmapimod and darapladib have largely failed to score any big hits, though there has been progress on the respiratory front as well as in HIV. Now CEO Andrew Witty is on the way out after coming under heavy flak for failing to whip up much excitement for its pipeline work.

You can add losmapimod to the list of failures during his command.

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Research Scientist - Immunology
Recursion Pharmaceuticals Salt Lake City, UT
Director of Operations
Atlas Venture Cambridge, MA

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