GlaxoSmithKline has made innovation its top priority as the drugmaker seeks to land federal approval of six drugs within the next 12 months, CEO Emma Walmsley told CNBC on Monday.
Performance and trust round out the balance of GSK’s main priorities in 2020 as the British company labors to make advancements in treatments for a number of diseases, Walmsley said in a “Mad Money” interview from J.P. Morgan’s annual health-care conference in San Francisco.
“We’ve had a lot of positive data for patients, whether that be on the Tesaro acquisition … or our new drug in multiple myeloma,” she said in a sit-down with show host Jim Cramer. “We have a lot of data coming through for HIV patients, in terms of these pioneering two-drug regimens, and we hope that this data among others is going to give us at least six approvals of new medicines or new indications” this year.
Walmsley, however, stopped short of saying how much GSK would spend on the research and development. She said the company is “accelerating investment,” but one of its “biggest cultural transformations” is in taking a more disciplined approach to go after products that will bring the best returns. GSK hired Walmsley in the first half of 2017 after she spent nearly two decades with cosmetics company L’Oreal.
In late 2018, GSK, Britain’s largest drugmaker, dished out $5.1 billion to acquire Tesaro, an American cancer biotech firm. It was part of Walmsley’s plan to focus more on oncology. Soon after, the company announced it would split into two businesses: one for prescription drugs and vaccines, while its consumer products division formed a joint venture with Pfizer.
About a month ago, GSK said it would seek U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for belantamab mafodotin, a treatment for multiple myeloma, which is a type of blood cancer. The company said belantamab mafodotin, if cleared, would be the first of its kind available in the country.
“Two years ago that was just in phase one. We’ve now gone — going to have up to 10 studies, and we’re hoping for an approval in fourth-line BCMA in the very near future,” Walmsley said. BCMA is B cell maturation antigen.
ViiV Healthcare, GSK’s HIV drugs division, last year submitted applications to the FDA for a two-drug treatment called cabotegravir and rilpivirine for adults living with the virus and one called fostemsavir.
For all the investment moves that GSK is making, Walmsley assured Cramer that the company has no plans to decrease its 4.3% dividend.
“We want to make sure that that innovation is being brought to patients but our commitment to the dividend remains extremely strong and there’s no change to our policy around that,” she said.