GSK relocates vaccine R&D to Maryland with new global center

In the wake of its multibillion-dollar asset swap with Novartis ($NVS), GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) is doubling down on its vaccines focus. And it'll be doing that in Maryland, where the company is establishing a new global R&D center.

The facility in Rockville, MD, could open by September at the earliest, and it will consolidate current facilities in Philadelphia and Cambridge, MA. The roughly 150 employees at each existing location may have to relocate or look elsewhere for work. The Boston Globe reports that the facility will be on a Glaxo campus currently housing a manufacturing plant, growing the employment base there to 1,000 from 400.

Acquired in 2012, the campus is located ideally for vaccines collaborators and public health officials, GSK said in a statement.

"In the coming weeks we'll have discussions with employees about the possibility of relocating to Rockville," a GSK spokesperson told FierceBiotech. "In addition we're still in the process of working through organizational design and business needs; this will help us understand the impact this consolidation will have on employees."

With the consolidation complete, Rockville will become one of three global vaccines R&D centers for the company, joining Rixensart, Belgium, and Siena, Italy. The Rockville facility will lead late-stage development, vaccine discovery and platform technology development. On top of relocating staffers from Philadelphia and Cambridge, it'll hire new researchers, the Globe reports.

GSK vaccines president Luc Debruyne

"Following the acquisition of Novartis' global vaccines business and in recognition of the vaccines knowledge and expertise in the United States, we are pleased to expand our U.S. presence with the creation of a world-class vaccines R&D centre," GSK vaccines president Luc Debruyne said in a release.

Last spring, GSK agreed to pick up most of Novartis' vaccines stable for $7.1 billion as it sent over its oncology assets. With the swap now complete, GSK is counting on vaccines to deliver 14% of its sales going forward.

One of its first major moves: wrapping up negotiations with the U.K. over meningitis B vaccine Bexsero, which the country will now cover at a price of £20 per dose.

- here's the release
- read FierceBiotech's take
- and the story from the Boston Globe

Special Report: The top 5 vaccine makers by 2013 revenue - GlaxoSmithKline