Divest and Conquer? GSK's Future is in Question

Published on: 

GSK’s position is raising concerns as it continues working towards its separation of businesses.

Recent news of GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK’s) sale of its entire stake in Innoviva (1), its respiratory drug partner, indicates the company’s momentum to split into two by 2022 is on track. This type of divestiture is certainly not uncommon in the bio/pharma world—with recent news including Takeda and Tejin Pharma’s transaction for diabetes products (2), and Lonza’s divestiture of its specialty ingredients business (3)—as streamlining operations allows companies to focus on strategic priorities in a fast-moving industry.

Yet, concerns are being raised around GSK’s future, as the company has struggled in the COVID-19 pandemic landscape and has seen its revenues dip in the first quarter of 2021. Additionally, a floundering pipeline and the arrival of activist investor, Elliott Management, taking a major stake in the company are placing more fuel on the fire that the company is under the cosh.

The news isn’t all bad, however, as the European Medicines Agency concluded that sotrovimab—a monoclonal antibody being developed by GSK and Vir Biotechnology—can be used as a treatment for patients with COVID-19 (4). Furthermore, positive clinical trial results have been reported for GSK and Sanofi’s COVID-19 vaccine (5), as well as for Medicago’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate, which has been tested in combination with GSK’s pandemic adjuvant (6). So, a potential Europe-wide use of sotrovimab and COVID-19 vaccine developments further down the line will surely boost the company’s reputation and stock price.



1. GSK, “GSK Announces Sale of Stake in Innoviva Inc.,” Press Release, 20 May 2021.
2. Takeda, “Takeda to Divest Four Diabetes Products in Japan to Teijin Pharma Limited,” Press Release, 26 Feb. 2021.
3. Lonza, “Lonza Signs Agreement to Divest Specialty Ingredients Business to Bain Capital and Cinven,” Press Release, 8 Feb. 2021.
4. EMA, “EMA Issues Advice on Use of Sotrovimab (VIR-7831) for Treating COVID-19,” Press Release, 21 May 2021.
5. GSK, “Sanofi and GSK COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate Demonstrates Strong Immune Responses Across All Adult Age Groups in Phase II Trial,” Press Release, 17 May 2021.
6. GSK, “Medicago and GSK Announce Positive Interim Phase II Results of Adjuvanted COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate,” Press Release, 18 May 2021.

About the Author

Felicity Thomas is the European editor for Pharmaceutical Technology Group.

Article Details

Pharmaceutical Technology Europe
Vol. 33, No. 6
June 2021
Page: 6


When referring to this article, please cite it as F. Thomas, “Divest and Conquer?” Pharmaceutical Technology Europe 33 (6) 2021.