GSK invests $120M in biopharma plant as renewed oncology bets grow

GlaxoSmithKline has a pipeline bulging with oncology bets as it moves forcefully into an area it had let drop off its radar screen. Today, the drugmaker opened a $120 million in a new biologics plant to handle them as they come to fruition.   

CEO Emma Walmsley made the announcement during an event at the drugmaker’s manufacturing site in Upper Merion, Pennsylvania, just outside of Philadelphia.  

RELATED: Overwhelmed by Shingrix demand, GSK plots $100M vaccine manufacturing boost 

“These investments will support and accelerate the transformation of our pipeline to deliver the next generation of medicines and vaccines for patients who need them,” Walmsley said in a statement.  

The company points out it has invested nearly $400 million dollars in its U.S. manufacturing network for vaccines and specialty drugs. Earlier this year, GSK announced a $100 million investment in Montana to boost production of its wildly popular Shingrix vaccine. 

It also has struck a deal to make its chickenpox vaccine in Russia as it pushes its vaccine portfolio abroad. 

Soon after Walmsley become CEO in 2017, she reworked the company’s R&D and rolled out a plan that includes a refocus on oncology just two years after the company swapped away its marketed cancer drugs to Novartis.

RELATED: GlaxoSmithKline, looking to pump up in new favorite oncology, buys Tesaro for $5.1B

Hal Barron was hired away from Genentech several years ago to oversee the effort of rebuilding GSK’s cancer pipeline. In the last year, the drugmaker has doubled its oncology assets to 17, covering a range of monotherapy and combination studies. 

Among other moves, it paid $5.1 billion to acquire Tesaro and made a $300 million upfront bet for a stake in Merck KGaA’s M7824. With GSK’s own researchers also moving assets into the clinic, the pipeline has grown quickly.