Company News: GSK and Human Genome Sciences

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GlaxoSmithKline laid off some 700 sales and marketing posts from its US commercial staff, along with related support personnel, reported the Wall Street Journal's Health Blog. While many of the jobs were eliminated, many other staffers have taken buyouts in recent months. Amidst falling revenue in Western regions, the company has been shifting some US and European sales roles over to Asia-Pacific and emerging markets, where sales have been up. GSK's last big round of pink slips was a 12% reduction in sales forces announced in 2008.

Human Genome Sciences
today filed an FDA marketing application for Benlysta (belimumab). The drug is designed to treat systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and, if approved, would be the first new FDA-sanctioned product for SLE in 50 years. Barry Labinger, EVP and chief commercial officer for HGS, told MM&M last month that he is hoping for priority review of six months and that HGS is gearing up its sales and marketing efforts in preparation for a potential launch by year's end. The FDA submission includes results from two Phase III trials, one 52 weeks the other 76. Benlysta met its primary endpoint after 52 weeks but not a secondary endpoint in the 76-week trial. An analyst from Wolters Kluwer Pharma Solutions gives Benlysta a 60% chance of approval and a $1.6 billion forecast. GSK, which is sharing in the development costs as part of a co-promotion agreement, filed a marketing application in the EU earlier this month.
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