Glaxo drives a harder hep B bargain than J&J

In paying $25m up front to license Ionis Pharmaceuticals’ chronic hepatitis B antisense therapies Glaxosmithkline looks to have cut a better deal than Johnson & Johnson did when it paid 10 times as much for Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals’ similar RNA interference project last October. Perhaps this is because Glaxo got in early: the deal dates back to 2010, when Glaxo took options to up to six Ionis rare and infectious disease projects, forking over $35m for the privilege. The two it is taking forward are GSK3389404, aka Ionis-HBV-LRx, and GSK3228836, aka Ionis-HBVRx. Glaxo is now on the hook for up to $262m in milestone payments as well as tiered royalties in the low double digits, as well as all the development, regulatory and sales spending. Phase II data on these assets have not been released – presentation is planned for a forthcoming meeting, possibly AASLD in Boston in November – but Glaxo has said that they are positive. Perhaps more detailed results will boost the sellside’s opinion of these projects: currently they are forecast to sell just $42m between them in 2024.

Glaxo's new acquisitions
      Global sales ($m)
Project Status First launch 2022e 2023e 2024e
GSK3389404 / Ionis-HBV-LRx Phase II Dec 2022 2 7 16
GSK3228836 / Ionis-HBVRx Phase II Dec 2022 3 12 26
Source: EvaluatePharma.

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