(Adds details on drugs, background)
By Ben Hirschler
LONDON, Oct 15 (Reuters) - GlaxoSmithKline Plc (GSK.L) said on Monday it had dropped a number of experimental medicines from development, including 10 products from Phase I studies, nine from Phase II and one — Ariflo — from Phase III.
The terminations were offset, however, by a decision to advance several new compounds into initial clinical testing and the progress of certain assets in mid-stage clinical trials.
“It’s about prioritisation and rationalisation,” a company spokeswoman said.
Europe’s largest drugmaker, giving a regular update on its drug pipeline, said it currently had 30 assets in late-stage development. This total cover 25 products in final Phase III developments, some of which have more than one use.
The late-stage line-up includes 12 assets in oncology, as well as six new vaccines. Both sectors are currently among the fastest growing in the pharmaceuticals industry.
Glaxo boasts one of the largest pipelines in the drug industry but analysts say it needs to deliver on this potential to make up for the loss of patent protection on older medicines.
At the Phase I level — the first stage of testing in humans — Glaxo said 14 new compounds had entered development, including the first small antibody drug from Domantis, a British biotech company that Glaxo acquired last December.
The Phase II terminations include talnetant, a drug for schizophrenia which had at one stage been seen as a potentially major product.
Glaxo has also decided to drop two long-acting beta 2-adrenergic agonists (LABA) drugs for respiratory disease, known as 901 and 007, in favour of another product in the same class dubbed 444.
The other Phase II casualties were 735 in HIV, 954 for diabetes, 682 for obesity, 943 for respiratory disease, 516 for dyslipidemia and casopitant for overactive bladder. Casopitant remains in development to prevent nausea in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.
Another drug for heart disease, called darapladib, remains in development, despite some analysts’ doubts about its potential.
The decision to stop development of Ariflo will come as no great surprise to many analysts, since the product has been in limbo since late 2003, when U.S. regulators asked for more clinical data proving its effectiveness.