* Benlysta launch expected in 2011
* Holds meetings with 300 companies this week
* European countries seek to reduce H1N1 orders
SAN FRANCISCO, Jan 12 (Reuters) - GlaxoSmithKline Plc GSK.L sees little risk of generic competition for top-selling respiratory drug Advair, the company's chief executive said on Tuesday.
“We are working on the basis of substantial Advair business for the foreseeable future,” CEO Andrew Witty said in response to questions at the JP Morgan healthcare conference. “It is very difficult to make a generic. There is nothing I have heard even this week that would make me change my mind.”
Advair could encounter generic competition in the key U.S. market in 2011 -- but the drug is delivered by an inhaler, complicating matters for would-be generic producers, who also face a fight to get cheaper copies of the medicine approved as straightforward substitutes.
Witty said Glaxo is in the midst of “genericization” as a number of its products lose patent protection -- most recently antiviral drug Valtrex.
He told reporters “the shape of the business is beginning to change” as new products, such as cervical cancer vaccine Cervarix, begin to enter the market.
Glaxo, along with partner Human Genome Sciences Inc HGSI.O, expects to file in the first half of this year for U.S. regulatory approval of experimental lupus drug Benlysta.
Witty said the drug will probably be launched in 2011.
London-based Glaxo has about 40 biotech partnerships and has held meetings with 300 companies this week during the San Francisco conference, he said.
“We will do some deals as a consequence,” Witty said, noting that Glaxo’s focus remains “bolt-on” deals related to emerging markets, consumer health products and vaccines.
He said several European countries have sought to reduce orders of H1N1 vaccine amid perceptions that the pandemic has not turned out to be as deadly as originally feared.
Witty said governments “moved quickly” to respond to the pandemic threat and it is not unreasonable for them to now reduce their orders.
In October, Glaxo said it expected to ship 440 million doses of H1N1 vaccine during the current flu season and will reveal during its earnings report next week how much of that total was shipped in 2009, the CEO said.
The company agreed on Tuesday to slash the amount of swine flu vaccine it will supply to Germany to approximately 70 percent of the original order. (Reporting by Deena Beasley; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.