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GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis, Lilly Part Of Drug Asset Swap


Big changes and asset swaps in the pharmaceutical world are happening this week, but the Triangle should be spared of any fall-out.

One of the big moves in this chess game includes Switzerland-based Novartis agreeing to spend up to $16 billion for GlaxoSmithKline’s cancer drug business in Pennsylvania.

Mary Anne Rhyne is a spokesperson for GSK.  She said when all is approved, 70 percent of their revenue will come from four key areas, and two of them are based in Research Triangle Park.

“Our respiratory therapy area and our HIV medicines, those are... Both have a large presence here in North Carolina and we hope will continue to be fuel for the company’s future," said Rhyne.

GlaxoSmithKline has 3,800 North Carolina employees in research and in its commercial operation.  There are even more if you include contract workers. 

The asset swap also includes the vaccines business.  Novartis agreed to sell most of that division to GSK for $7.1 billion.  That includes royalties. 

National Public Radio and other news organizations report the pharmaceutical reshuffling represents companies focusing on what they do best, and selling off the rest.

"In oncology, GSK has been a much smaller player than Novartis traditionally," said Rhyne. " They have a really strong presence and hopefully can make some of the medicines we've developed accessible to more patients than we've been able to get the medicines to thus far."

Novartis also announced this week, that it has agreed to sell its Animal Health division based in Greensboro, to Eli Lilly & Co. for $5.4 billion.  The Swiss drug company has 300 employees in Greensboro.

Leoneda Inge is WUNC’s race and southern culture reporter, the first public radio journalist in the South to hold such a position. She also is co-host of the podcast Tested and host of the special podcast series, PAULI. Leoneda is the recipient of numerous awards from AP, RTDNA and NABJ. She’s been a reporting fellow in Berlin and Tokyo. You can follow her on Twitter @LeonedaInge.
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