GSK's Witty wants deals, more funds for FDA

It must be the day for CEOs to chat. The Financial Times sat down with Andrew Witty (photo), chief of GlaxoSmithKline, and his words for the day were flexibility (on pricing) and diversification (into generics and new acquisitions).

Witty is expecting continued government pressure on prices--downward, of course--as cash-strapped institutions look for places to cut. After the U.S. elections, he said, he hopes that politicians engage in "calm reflection" about drugs, keeping in mind the patients' good. Part of that means deciding how to adopt new technologies while still providing cost-effective treatment. (Sounds like he's expecting to negotiate prices, doesn't it?) 

And as for acquisitions, GSK announced along with its 3Q earnings that it was halting share buybacks for the moment to conserve its cash for deals. Witty said his priority now is "to make sure we're invested in the business." And "invested" might mean "some bolt-on acquisitions."

The FT practically invited Witty to thrash the FDA for its newly tough stance on new drug approvals, but he demurred, saying that the agency's attitude reflects society's attitude. And that attitude, for now, is anxious. So pharma needs to focus on delivering more info, he said. And the FDA definitely needs more resources to do its job well.

- read the story at the FT