GlaxoSmithKline CEO Andrew Witty is still counting on new respiratory meds to help pull the company out of the financial doldrums, and he has a new inhaler plant in the U.K. to help meet what he says is growing demand.
The U.K. drugmaker ($GSK) opened an $80.5 million (£56 million), 4,500-square-meter plant this week in Ware, U.K. The 48,437-square-foot expansion will allow the Ware site to nearly double production of its Ellipta inhalers to 37 million a year by next year. The new facility added 150 jobs to GSK’s operations there, bringing to 400 the new positions added at Ware since 2013, GSK said, and pushing total employment there above 1,200.
“This new facility demonstrates our commitment to manufacturing in the U.K. which continues to be a very positive environment for life sciences investment,” Witty said in a statement. “We currently export Ellipta inhalers from Ware to over 74 countries and the new facility opened today will increase capacity to meet growing demand for our new portfolio of respiratory medicines worldwide.”
GSK is looking to its newer Breo portfolio of drugs to help offset the huge revenue declines it has seen since it lost patent protection to its top-selling Advair, which at one time generated $8 billion in annual revenue. Last year, respiratory med sales were off 7% worldwide. Advair still coughed up $5.3 billion in 2015 sales in the U.S., but that was off 30% from its peak in 2013.
But Witty, who has said he will step down in March 2017 as investors have gotten impatient with his slow and steady approach to rebuilding, has enough confidence in the new meds that GSK is also expanding a U.S. plant to make more inhalers. A 65,000-square-foot expansion at its plant in Zebulon, NC, is being built so it can add an Ellipta inhaler assembly line that is expected to be completed in January 2017.
- here’s the announcement