GlaxoSmithKline is buying a stake in Austria’s Intercell and the two firms will collaborate on developing needle-free, patch-based vaccines.

The agreement will include Intercell’s candidate vaccine for travellers’ diarrhoea (which is in Phase III) and an investigational single application pandemic influenza vaccine, as well as the use of the patch technology for other vaccines in GSK’s portfolio. On a financial level, the UK drugs giant will pay an upfront cash fee of 33.6 million euros, plus 84 million euros to buy as much as a 5% stake in Intercell.

Jean Stephenne, president of GSK Biologicals, said that this novel technology “has real potential to change the way vaccines are delivered in the future”. He added that the firm has an extensive portfolio of vaccines “and we believe needle-free vaccination could offer benefits such as simplified administration and increased compliance”.

Intercell’s share price has risen on the news this morning, up 3.5% at 10.50 UK time. GSK will join Novartis as a shareholder in the Vienna-based firm, as the Swiss major holds a 15% stake.

Emerging markets priority
Back to GSK and its head of emerging markets, Abbas Hussain, has been telling analysts in London that the company believes it can “beat the market growth rate” and outgrow its rivals in that sector.

GSK is pursuing a strategy of branded generics, vaccines and traditional patented medicines in the emerging markets, which currently account for 13 % of total sales. This is going to rise, Mr Hussain said, telling reporters that by 2020 “you are looking at emerging markets in size being equivalent to the US market and the major five in Europe”.

He added that GSK will look at acquisitions in this area, though good, sensibly-priced targets are rare, and alliances may make more sense. They can be “a great way to go as you are sharing the risk, and it makes good financial sense,” Mr Hussain said, though he acknowledging that they can be more complicated than a straightforward buy-out.

GSK to sepnd £500 million in UK manufacturing
Finally, GSK has welcomed a decision by the UK government decision to reduce corporation tax to 10% from 21% for patent-derived income will enable the company to increase investment here.

The ‘patent-box’ scheme announced by Chancellor Alistair Darling in his pre-Budget report will “significantly improve the UK’s international competitiveness and encourage long-term inward investment in the UK from companies seeking to build their future high technologies and manufacturing capability”, GSK said. Chief executive Andrew Witty added that “assuming the new regime will apply to patents currently under development it will have the immediate impact of making the UK a priority area for future investments, particularly in manufacturing.”

GSK is committing big sums to its facility at Ware, Hertfordshire, to manufacture next-generation respiratory medicines and notes that its new investments in UK manufacturing will amount to approximately £500 million. For more details on the ‘patent-box’ scheme, see Tuesday’s PharmaTimes UK News elert.