Glaxo Aggressively Pursues Asian Vaccine Markets
GlaxoSmithKline has aggressively pursued a vaccine-production capability in Asia with a Chinese flu shot joint venture and a new plant in Singapore to make pneumonia vaccines. The company inked an alliance with Shenzhen Neptunus to make flu vaccines for markets in China, Hong Kong and Macau; Glaxo gets a 40 percent initial stake in the JV in exchange for a contribution of cash and assets worth $34 million. Within two years, GSK plans to take a majority interest in the partnership.
Meanwhile, Glaxo chief Andrew Witty went to Singapore to open its largest vaccine plant in Asia. Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said his city-state is “proud to be a part of this project” and said work at the $600 million, 85,000-square-meter plant could save 3 million lives per year worldwide. Over the next two years the plant will ramp up to 1,100 workers, setting up production processes and quality controls, Witty said. Glaxo expects commercial production to begin there in 2011. Lee noted that GSK and Singapore shared a longstanding and enduring relationship after it first set up a small sales office here in 1959, the year Singapore gained self-government. Since then GSK has invested S$1.5 billion and expanded its activities in Singapore into manufacturing, drug discovery and clinical research, making the city-state one of the company’s two global strategic manufacturing hubs and its regional headquarters for Asia Pacific. Lee said the republic might explore the possibility of offering the city-state to be the corporate base for global companies, both big and small. “In the past, global companies operated with just one corporate headquarters, where all their key decision-makers were based. However, Asia is now the main growth story in the world,” he said, adding that many companies were therefore looking to locate their key functions and decision makers closer to Asian markets. With more and more manufacturing and research and development taking place in the region, companies were also establishing ‘control towers’ to better manage and coordinate their research and production activities.
“Singapore’s stable and pro-business environment, excellent connectivity and competent workforce make us an ideal Asian base for these companies.” — Singapore Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong
At the Singapore press conference, Witty also offered his views on the global economy: sluggish, with continued economic contraction. “This could be a relatively anemic economic backdrop for a while,” he said. “I’m not yet confident that anything is very different today than it was three months ago. I think we’re still seeing an environment very similar to the one we saw in the second half of last year.” In April, GlaxoSmithKline reported first quarter profit fell 13 per cent based on weak US pharmaceutical sales.
– see the China JV story from Reuters
– see the Bernama’s Singapore coverage
– get more from the Straits Times