The facility, in Bangalore, will serve the R&D needs of GSK Consumer Healthcare, which remains a key focus for the pharmaceutical major under recently-appointed CEO Andrew Witty, despite repeated calls for the sale of the division, which makes oral care products such as toothpastes and mouthwashes as well as over0the-counter medicines.
GSK has committed to reducing the risks in its business, with a strategy predicated on a more diversified product portfolio spanning small-molecule and biologics medicines, over-the-counter pharmaceuticals and personal care products, with a global focus that taps into emerging markets such as Asia, Latin America and Africa.
Earlier this year the head GSK Consumer Healthcare chief John Clarke said he expected to achieve sales growth of around 10 per cent a year, helped in part by the purchase of new products and companies.
Acquisitions are clearly a major foundation for the consumer healthcare division, with the company announcing a series of deals including the purchase of AstraZeneca products in Sweden and the Egyptian portfolio of Bristol-Myers Squibb in recent weeks.
But the latest deal with Kemwell indicates that GSK is also committed to R&D in the consumer health arena. It also represents a step-up in the degree of collaboration between GSK and Kemwell, which has been manufacturing various products for the drug major for the last 10 years.
Kemwell’s oral care unit (OCU) will provide services such as formulation development, stability studies and the manufacture of clinical trial materials.
The facility is part of GSK’s global plan to double its pipeline of consumer healthcare projects by 2013. GSK’s oral care sales amounted to £2.9bn (€3.3bn) in the first nine months of 2008, up 3 per cent and led by brands such as Aquafresh, Sensodyne, Macleans and Odol.
In September, the company introduced Sensodyne – claimed to be the fastest growing global toothpaste brand - into the Chinese market, GSK’s first major consumer product to launch in the country for a decade.
At the time of GSK’s third-quarter results, Witty acknowledged that some of its consumer healthcare brands were feeling the effects of the global economic turndown, but said “the strength of our diversified business model is that it helps to mitigate any potential impact on GSK as our multiple franchises operate in very different economic cycles.”