Sector News

Barron exhorts GSK scientists to take ‘smart risks’

July 22, 2019
Life sciences

Hal Barron has detailed efforts to embolden GlaxoSmithKline scientists to take “smart risks” when developing drugs. The culture change is part of an effort to stop the fear of failure from pushing GSK researchers to make conservative decisions.

Talking to the Financial Times, Barron discussed how rewarding teams that take molecules deep into the clinic and penalizing those that kill off assets early can subtly influence the interpretation of data.

“Once you start fearing failure, you become so conservative that you end up basically moving towards things that are obviously going to work and therefore likely to be not very innovative. And, ultimately, it’s a death spiral,” Barron said.

To cut the risk of such conservatism, Barron is encouraging staff to take more risks. Decisions about whether a risk is justified now falls on the individual who is in charge of a particular program. Before Barron’s arrival, GSK made decisions about whether to advance or drop a drug by consensus.

Ultimately, Barron hopes to double the proportion of development programs that end in approved drugs. Technology, notably artificial intelligence, is central to GSK’s efforts to boost productivity.

If successful, Barron’s attempts to cut the failure rate could transform GSK, but the timelines involved in drug development mean the payoff from the reform agenda is unlikely to come quickly. With investors pressuring GSK to improve now, Barron and his colleagues need some near-team successes to appease people.

Barron thinks GSK’s pipeline features drugs capable of boosting GSK’s near-term prospects. GSK’s $5.1 billion purchase of Tesaro gave it control of PARP inhibitor Zejula and anti-PD-1 antibody dostarlimab, teeing it up to make inroads into the ovarian and endometrial cancer markets. Additionally, its internal team has taken anti-BCMA antibody-drug conjugate GSK2857916 to the cusp of a filing for approval.

By Nick Paul Taylor

Source: Fierce Biotech

comments closed

Related News

December 3, 2022

Sanofi moves into swanky new Paris HQ designed around hybrid work and sustainability

Life sciences

Monday, the French pharma giant officially moved into its new global home base in Paris, dubbed La Maison Sanofi. The 9,000-square-meter (about 96,875-square-foot) facility comprises two historic buildings and will host around 500 employees, the company explained in a release.

December 3, 2022

As CEO Schultz eyes retirement, Teva taps former Sandoz head Francis as its next leader

Life sciences

On the first day of the new year, former Sandoz chief Richard Francis will take the reins from Schultz, who is hanging up his CEO hat to retire on Dec. 31, Teva said Monday. The news comes a little more than two weeks after Teva publicly said it was looking for Schultz’s replacement.

December 3, 2022

General Electric sets healthcare division spinoff plans

Life sciences

General Electric Co. set the terms for the spinoff of its healthcare division, putting an initial value of roughly $31 billion on the soon-to-be-public company. The Boston conglomerate plans to split into three separate public companies by early 2024. Following the healthcare spinoff, it plans to separate its aerospace business from its power and renewable-energy units.