GSK tips its hat on new deals, reviews incentives as Hal Barron cooks up a turnaround plan for its lackluster R&D group

Hal Barron

Later in Q2, new GSK research chief Hal Barron is expected to present a detailed outline of his turnaround plan for pharma R&D, which has been languishing for years now. And the anticipation is killing analysts, it seems.

Barron and CEO Emma Walmsley are keeping their cards close to the vest for now, but in their Q1 call this week the two were pressed on two key issues: What does the recent recruitment of Genentech BD specialist Kevin Sin — who will join Barron’s team in San Francisco — mean for the first big round of deals, particularly in oncology? And how do they plan to refocus a group that consumes about $6 billion every year on R&D costs, without much to show for it?

After assuring everyone that a plan is in the works, Barron — who had some nice things to say about GSK’s DPUs (Discovery Performance Units) — did divulge one general point on the BD focus for experimental drugs, as well as new tech:

I think the areas that we’re most likely to be excited about are more early stage development and potentially late stage research opportunities, as well as, as I said, opportunities that we could identify that would be cutting edge technologies that could help us leverage the existing projects that we have in house at this time.

Emma Walmsley

And it seems as if there’s a plan afoot to come up with a new incentive plan for researchers. GSK needs blockbuster drugs in the clinic, and they want R&D to focus on impact. Noted Walmsley:

In R&D we’ve been thinking very carefully about how we incent the right kind of behaviors around building the value of the pipeline and progressing not just as many things as possible, but progressing the right scale medicines that are going to have an impact, not just for patients but for shareholder returns.

That’s about it for now. But we’re following this story step by step. 

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

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