GSK: Ian Tomlinson talks about building a biopharmaceutical presence within GSK




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Video title: GSK: Ian Tomlinson talks about building a biopharmaceutical presence within GSK
Released on: September 26, 2012. © PharmaTelevision Ltd
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In this episode of PharmaTelevision News Review, filmed at #BIO2012 Convention in Boston, Fintan Walton talks to Ian Tomlinson, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Business Development & Biopharmaceutical R&D at GSK
GSK's perspective: Importance of biopharmaceuticals area
Fintan Walton:
Hello and welcome to PharmaTelevision News Review here at BIO in Boston, in 2012. On this show I have Ian Tomlinson, who is Senior Vice President who holds the title of Head of Biopharmaceuticals Research and Development as well as Worldwide Business Development at GSK, welcome.
Ian Tomlinson:
Hello, hi.
Fintan Walton:
You've got two roles, two functions, I suppose that both of them are really important to GSK, lets just look at the biopharmaceutical side, first of all just lets be clear about what captures biopharmaceuticals because obviously you've got a vaccines division as well clearly vaccines are still separate from biopharmaceutical?
Ian Tomlinson:
Right, so vaccines is a separate base mainly in Belgium, but when we say biopharmaceuticals we mean antibodies, proteins like kind of thing.
Fintan Walton:
So the later development of proteins for therapeutic use?
Ian Tomlinson:
That's right, yes.
Fintan Walton:
So obviously biologics, we can call that group as biologics, is a critically important to the industry, it's had a huge impact on the revenues of pharmaceutical companies, so from GSK's perspective how important is the area of biopharmaceuticals in relation to say other areas such as small molecule development?
Ian Tomlinson:
Yes, so it's a good question. Six-year ago GSK's clinical pipeline of pharmaceuticals was about 5% biopharmaceuticals and today it's 21% so I think you could say it's gone from bit of a hobby honestly for GSK, I mean GSK go into the game very late in terms of monoclonal antibodies and you know over the last five-years has really tried to build a presence because obviously it's trying to build a diversified business, biopharmaceuticals as you know are big opportunity to make medicines everyone else has done it GSK hasn't done so much of it and it got into the game seriously I say about seven-years ago it started to make a serious effort we set up the Biopharm CEDD, the Centre of Excellence for Drug Discovery for Biopharms then three and a half years ago set up a unit the Biopharm R&D unit where all the manufacturing, all the discovery, the development, all the assets where in one place.
Fintan Walton:
Okay, and that presumably why your other path, your other job is business development to bring in these innovations?
Ian Tomlinson:
Yes, so it's kind of outright, I came into GSK about five and a half years ago actually I was in a biotech company before and called Domantis that GSK bought [PharmaDeals ID = 25980] and then took the job of Biopharm R&D a year ago got the extra job of Head of Worldwide Business Development, I guess the thinking was there I've been on the other side of the sort of the fence, I've seen how biotech's operate, I've been in academia before that and therefore it was kind of maybe I had empathy with our partners I've been able to understand kind of what they are going through, but my role in business development covers biopharmaceuticals got a small molecules platforms, technologies all assets which are in the clinic or preclinical would be in that space.
Fintan Walton:
Right, but not anything beyond approved?
Ian Tomlinson:
No that's dealt with by our corporate development group all approved products.
Building biopharmaceutical presence within GSK
Fintan Walton:
Okay, so how do you built a biopharmaceutical presence within GSK?
Ian Tomlinson:
So, I mean I think firstly GSK has had an interest in biopharmaceuticals for sometimes, right, It's had products, it's been looking at developing it's not really had a critical mass so the first step was recreating the critical mass so before the unit Biopharm R&D unit for formed we had discovery which is in one place we had some cell line development, was in another place we had some process development and formulation, there was in another place we had a pilot plant in Philadelphia we had various late stage assets our own and the one we with partners like Benlysta and they were scattered around GSK. So the key first step was to create that critical mass by bringing it all together to see what we have and then to actually build on that.
Partnership strategy (Deals with Genmab,Amgen and HGS)
Fintan Walton:
So in the end building it requires a critical mass in terms of been have the expertise internally to be able to identify great opportunities form both within and outside?
Ian Tomlinson:
That's right, yes.
Fintan Walton:
And what's also important I suppose is, is when you are really serious about building such a business you have to be prepared to license and potentially do more acquisitions, so where are you placed in doing both of it?
Ian Tomlinson:
Yes, so I mean actually a large proportion of the kind of the Biopharm portfolio that I inhibited when I took over the unit three and a half years ago were pre-existing deals that we had partnership with Genmab [PharmaDeals ID = 34118] around this product Arzerra which is now launched, we did a partnership with Amgen [PharmaDeals ID = 33693] around Prolia, obviously our partnership with HGS [PharmaDeals ID = 46716] in Benlysta. So actually many of the late stage assets that we had the monoclonal antibodies were with partners and actually that's a theme that's cuts across GSK R&D as a whole both the large and the small molecules is about 50% of all the assets we have in the clinic are from a partner or are being developed with a partner.
Organisation of different therapeutic area objectives and targets at GSK
Fintan Walton:
So the other thing, GSK has recently restructured its research and development and we can come on to that in a moment, but you know clearly biopharmaceuticals also spans in number of different therapeutic areas, so how do you organize yourself in this respect, how does that work it at GSK?
Ian Tomlinson:
Yes well so we put a lot of effort into thinking what's the best way of doing that and I know everyone does that a little bit differently, so what we have in GSK is we have therapy area units, there is a respiratory group through to the oncology, through the various inner therapy areas, they have the clinical expertise, they have the biological expertise they know about the targets, the disease mechanisms all that kind of stuff. We then have a Biopharm unit and what happens essentially the Biopharm unit partners with a therapy area around a specific compound in a specific indication and so it's very much a partnership we have the expertise around the hardware, how do you make the monoclonal antibodies? How do you make the biologics? How do you manufacture them all that stuff, the pharmacology, immunogenicity all the things you need to look at with biologics and then the therapy areas have the expertise around the clinical trials within the biology, the mechanisms that they are looking at.
Fintan Walton:
So in the end the therapy areas are responsible of making sure that clinical development occurs properly it's there within their objectives, your objectives are to make sure that the product can be made, it can achieve all the necessary targets to make a good product that needs to be made.
Ian Tomlinson:
That's right, yes the quality of the molecule, but in the end it's a partnership and I think I shouldn't underestimate the value of that partnership because they have their level of expertise we have ours but actually it's the mix and the synergy between the two that actually creates value in the end. So how you actually create and nurture that partnership is a really a critical part of being successful when you're trying to build something like this.
Approach towards Innovation and partnership
Fintan Walton:
So if I was a biotechnology company out there and I had a new antibody which I am obviously believe is brilliant I want to approach GSK, do I approach you are do I approach the therapy head?
Ian Tomlinson:
So it's either way. So actually so I in my business development role I have a business development team I am Head of Biopharmaceuticals Business Development and I have heads of all the therapy areas in terms of business development heads for each of those. You can go in at either level they will connect and you will we will go through the process of working out whether that's a product we would like to license, option, buy whatever. So doesn't really matter where the initial contact is if it is a respiratory Biopharm you can speak to the head of respiratory and start there, or if you just wanna it is a Biopharm in general and a different areas you can go to a head of Biopharm business development doesn't really matter we will connect all the dots internally.
Fintan Walton:
Right, so just in terms then of innovation, in terms of relating biopharmaceutical company or pharmaceutical division to innovation is that it doesn't really matter what the innovation is in the end does it?
Ian Tomlinson:
Well so I mean if the innovation is around a technology or a platform that yields Biopharma's that would sit in our Biopharm team. If the innovation is around the target or a disease mechanism that would essentially sit in the therapy area and if they decide they wanna develop a biopharmaceutical to interfere with that pathway or that mechanism then they would come to us, if they want to do a small molecule they would go to our small molecule organization, so everyone has their areas of expertise and it's the matter of creating that partnership which I think we are getting quite good at.
Future plans in biopharmaceuticals
Fintan Walton:
Right, okay. So then for you and your objectives to build this side of the business, what can we expect going into the future from GSK in that regard?
Ian Tomlinson:
Yes, so I mean GSK is completely committed to biopharmaceuticals, I say we have 21% of the pipeline today that doesn't mean 21% of the products or 21% of the sales so we have an ambition of having 20% actually of GSK's approved products on a year-by-year basis being a biopharmaceuticals by 2015 and beyond. So quite an ambitious target, well we've got the pipeline shared, we now need to translate the pipeline share into the serious of approved products and obviously we need to start selling some of these things, because if you look at revenue at the moment for biopharmaceuticals it's quite low, but of course growing rapidly with the uptake of Benlysta, Prolia and Arzerra our three marketed products or co-marketed products.
GSK's role in biosimilars
Fintan Walton:
Okay, one area that some of the companies even like Pfizer have gone into biosimilars, GSK?
Ian Tomlinson:
Not in a big way. We've done a small number of biosimilar deals. I think there is a big question for us right now as to whether is that investment we want to make? At the moment we have a pretty good late stage pipeline in GSK as we have grown our innovative pipeline of Biopharm significantly and that's taken a lot of effort. We built a lot of capability around that and resources, do we want to dilute that out by making a big push into biosimilars, in the end I think GSK is all about trying to make medicines which will make a difference to the patient. Now was is true that a biosimilar if you make it well you make it to high quality and you can sell it at a cost base which can get to a broad spectrum of population you could be getting a drug I guess to more people than the reference product toward. However other people are developing these biosimilars so it's not it's not a requirement for us to do this and so to be honest it's a difficult decision we are having those discussions at the moment, but we've not taken that leap yet.
Fintan Walton:
Well we look forward to seeing how you develop over the next few years, and thank you very much Ian for coming on the show.
Ian Tomlinson:
Thank you very much, Cheers.
Fintan Walton
Dr Fintan Walton is the Founder and CEO of PharmaVentures . After completing his doctoral research on the genetics of cell proliferation at the University of Michigan(US)and Trinity College (Dublin, Ireland), Dr Walton gained broad commercial experience in biotechnology in management positions at Bass and Celltech plc (1982-1992).
Ian Tomlinson
Senior Vice President
At the time of recording this PTV interview Ian Tomlinson serves as Senior Vice President, Head of Biopharmaceuticals R&D and Worldwide Business Development (WWBD) in GSK. Biopharmaceuticals provide GSK with a unique opportunity for diversity and growth, but they also present unique challenges. In his Biopharm R&D role Ian combines the resources and development expertise of a large pharmaceutical company, with the entrepreneurial spirit of a smaller biotech organization, bringing early research, late-stage Biopharm development and manufacturing expertise into one organization. In his business development role, Ian has global responsibility for all Pharmaceuticals R&D related business development activities for GSK. His team is committed to finding talent, ideas, and new medicines beyond the wall of GSK's internal Research & Development community. Ian has a global team of scientific, transaction and alliance management experts building diverse collaborations relating to compounds (early-stage discovery programmes through to marketed products) and technologies including: - Co-development, in-licensing, options-based, drug-discovery collaborations, product acquisition, and/or co-promotion/co-marketing arrangements - R&D based mergers and acquisitions - Technology licensing - Research collaborations - Academic relationships Ian graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge, UK. He then spent 11 years at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, where he initially worked on the completion of the sequencing and mapping of all human antibody genes, and latterly on engineering recombinant antibodies. In 2000, together with Sir Gregory Winter, he co-founded Domantis Limited to develop an entirely new class of drugs based on the smallest fragments of antibodies, called Domain Antibodies, or "dAbs", which was acquired in 2007 by GSK for $454M, making it one of the largest ever acquisitions of a private biotech company.
PharmaVentures
PharmaVentures is a corporate finance and transactions advisory firm that has served hundreds of clients worldwide in relation to their strategic deal making in the pharmaceutical, life science and healthcare sectors. Our key offerings include: Transactions / deal negotiations; Product / technology valuations; Deal term advice; Due diligence & expert reports; Strategy formulation; Alliance management; and Expert opinion for litigation/arbitration cases. PharmaVentures provides the global expertise to ensure our clients generate the highest possible return on investment from all their deal making activities. We have experience of all therapeutic areas and can offer advice on both product and technology commercialisation.
GlaxoSmithKline
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is global healthcare group, which is engaged in the creation and discovery, development, manufacture and marketing of pharmaceutical products, including vaccines, over-the-counter (OTC) medicines and health-related consumer products. GSK's principal pharmaceutical products include medicines in the following therapeutic areas: respiratory, anti-virals, including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), central nervous system, cardiovascular and urogenital, metabolic, anti-bacterials, oncology and emesis, vaccines and dermatologicals. The Company operates in three primary areas of business: Pharmaceuticals, Vaccines and Consumer Healthcare. It has global manufacturing and research and development presence. On February 1, 2011, GSK disposed of its entire 18% interest in Quest Diagnostics Inc. On January 31, 2012, the Company completed the divestment of brands in the United States and Canada to Prestige Brands Holdings.