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GSK strikes deal to buy US vaccine firm Affinivax

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GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has agreed to buy US vaccine technology firm Affinivax in deal worth up to 3.3 billion dollars (£2.6 billion).

It comes as the UK pharmaceutical business seeks to bolster its vaccine operation as part of a shake-up of its portfolio, including the spin-off of its consumer health business.

GSK told shareholders on Tuesday that it will buy the Boston-based biotech company for an upfront payment of 2.1 billion dollars (£1.7 billion) and could pay a further 1.2 billion dollars (£950 million) dependent on performance milestones.

Affinivax is working on developing vaccines which target pneumococcal disease, including pneumonia, meningitis and bloodstream infections.

GSK chief scientific officer and research and development president Hal Barron said: “The proposed acquisition further strengthens our vaccines R&D pipeline, provides access to a new, potentially disruptive technology, and broadens GSK’s existing scientific footprint in the Boston area.

“We look forward to working with the many talented people at Affinivax to combine our industry-leading development, manufacturing, and commercialisation capabilities to make this exciting new technology available to those in need.”

Affinivax Inc chief executive Steven Brugger said: “Affinivax grew out of our founders’ scientific and personal vision to drive vaccine innovation to make a meaningful impact on people’s lives, in both developed and developing countries.

“Over the past eight years, we have taken that vision from the initial development of our MAPS vaccine platform at Boston Children’s Hospital to a pipeline of novel vaccines with our lead vaccine candidate in late-stage clinical studies.”

Laura Hoy, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “GSK’s marching ahead toward its upcoming separation with momentum, snapping up specialty vaccine maker Affinivax in an effort to pad out its pipeline of late-stage drugs.

“The group’s planning to rely on growth from these niche medicines to support its ambitions for 5% compound annual sales growth, and this acquisition could be the first of many as the group looks to improve its portfolio.”

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