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GSK aims to cut time to clinic with excipient-free compression

By Nick Taylor , 08-Feb-2012

GSK is developing tablets it can compress without excipients to cut the time taken to reach the clinic by up to nine months.

The research into compression characteristics of tablets is part of efforts by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to make better, earlier decisions about which candidates it moves into the later stages of development.

If we can compress tablets without excipients, we no longer need to go through all the development process of a tablet before we can go first time in human”, Andrew Witty, CEO of GSK, told media and investors following release of the company’s fourth quarter results.

By cutting out the traditional route of making a tablet stable Witty said GSK can save cash and reduce the time taken to enter the clinic by six to nine months. If the drug shows promise in initial clinical trials, which increasingly look at efficacy as well as safety, GSK can then do tablet development.

This is similar to how companies now approach toxicology. Tests that companies used to run before entering the clinic are now being delayed until after a compound has shown promise in early phase development. Taking this approach means less cash is spent on compounds that will be dropped.

Manufacturing investment

GSK also spoke of its changing approach to manufacturing. Simon Dingemans, chief financial officer at GSK, said the company is trying to simplify supply chains and cut costs by locating plants near to where the products are sold.

This strategy is part of an ‘operational excellence’ drive. Last year GSK found £300m ($478m) of extra savings its drive can realise, a “reasonable chunk” of which comes from the supply chain, Dingemans said. Total savings of up to £2.8bn by 2014 are expected but GSK is also investing in capacity.

We're bringing in a big new range of products on the consumer side and on the pharma side. We will have to put some investment behind the manufacturing capacity”, Dingemans said. This week GSK set aside AU$60m to invest in a blow-fill-seal manufacturing capacity in Victoria, Australia.

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