GSK plans to positively impact health of 2.5 billion people over next decade

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Eimear Caslin

GSK had a bold ambition over the next ten years to positively impact the health of 2.5 billion people worldwide across four core therapeutic areas, infectious diseases, HIV, oncology, and immunology, Eimear Caslin, General Manager of GSK in Ireland, told the Conference.

She said that as a company, GSK had truly transformed over the last few years to become a fully focused biopharma company, a change which  culminated in summer with the demerger of GSK’s world-leading consumer healthcare business, Haleon.

“With that transformation has come renewed purpose to unite science, technology, and talent to get ahead of disease together.  We are prioritising research into vaccines and medicines across four core therapeutic areas – infectious diseases, HIV, oncology, and immunology. And at the heart of enabling this work is our R&D focus on the science of the immune system, human genetics, and advanced technologies.

“We want to enhance our pipeline of vaccines and medicines to help us get ahead of disease together, so we are investing, with €6 billion  spent on R&D last year – 3.5% more than 2020.We have also streamlined our R&D governance in recent years. We have moved from separate clinical development organisations for vaccines and medicines into a single combined organisation. This move will help us make sure we invest in programmes that can most positively impact the health of patients by unlocking scientific synergies across prevention and treatment.

“Working in partnership is also crucial to strengthening our pipeline, expertise, and productivity in R&D. Just last month, we entered a three-year expanded collaboration with US-based precision medicine company, Tempus, which provides GSK with access to Tempus’ Artificial Intelligence-enabled platform, including its library of de-identified patient data. Through its Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning capability, GSK will work with Tempus to improve clinical trial design, speed up enrolment and identify drug targets. This will contribute to GSK’s R&D success rate and help provide patients with more personalised treatment faster.     

“Earlier this year we announced the extension of our collaboration with the consumer genetics and therapeutics company 23andMe into 2023. In less than four years, under this collaboration, over 40 therapeutic programs have been identified and an advanced immuno-oncology antibody has progressed into clinical development.

“And in December 2021, we entered a 5-year collaboration with the University of Oxford to establish the Oxford-GSK Institute of Molecular and Computational Medicine. The Institute, based at the University of Oxford, aims to improve the success and speed of research and development of new medicines, also building on insights from human genetics and using advanced technologies such as functional genomics and machine learning.

“We know that genetically validated targets are at least twice as likely to successfully become medicines. To date, our investments in human genetics, functional genomics, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning have enabled GSK to more than double the number of targets in our early portfolio since 2017, with 70% of our research targets now genetically validated.

She said this level of collaboration and innovation could only be good news for patients around the world who relied on the company to make the breakthroughs of the future.

“Closer to home, we continue to make progress to positively impact the health of patients in Ireland. We recently funded the introduction of an innovative COPD Therapy Review Service, delivered by a team of clinical pharmacists and nurses employed by IQVIA.

“We know that in 2016, Ireland was noted to have the highest hospitalisation rates per 100,000 head of population in the OECD in relation to COPD. And each year over 15,000 patients are admitted to hospital with COPD in Ireland.

“It has been recognised that it has been a challenge in general practice to continue the management of chronic diseases during the pandemic. Therefore this service provides full clinical reviews of COPD patients and is designed to assist general practices to implement a systematic approach to the management of patients with COPD to reduce their symptoms and the risk of exacerbations. The GP retains full responsibility for the care of their patients and control over the entire process, including any treatment choices arising from the review process.6

“This project commenced in May 2022. To date almost 50 general practices have been onboarded to receive support. Initial outcomes show almost 80% of patients who attended the clinics were either symptomatic and/or exacerbating, demonstrating that patients with a high symptom burden are being reviewed in the service. We are delighted that an extension of this programme will continue into 2023 which will see more general practices being able to avail of this systematic approach to management of their COPD patients and hopefully avoiding the need for some of these patients for hospitalisation.

“We are also proud to run a severe asthma patient support programme, which consists of three elements. The first component, in conjunction with Ashfield, is the provision of nurse support in hospital clinics and in the community for patients transitioning to home treatment with the nurses providing training and treatment administration support.

“Secondly, as part of the service, and working with our partners Health Beacon, we also provide an innovative smart-sharps bin. This is a connected device which is provided to patients on request from the healthcare team and it allows for safe disposal of sharps, while simultaneously monitoring patient adherence to treatment. When the smart sharps bin is full and ready for collection, this is automatically notified, with collection and replacement arranged.

“In August this year, the third component, a patient companion app was launched with Health Beacon to further support patients administering treatment at home. This app accompanies the smart sharps bin and reminds patients when their next dose is due and features videos on how to safely administer their treatment.

“Our results show us that more than 95% of patients enrolled in this programme are adherent to treatment each month, which is a fantastic result, enabling patients to be successfully treated at home”.

Ms. Caslin said these were just a few examples of the ways in which GSK,  played its part in transforming healthcare and the lives of patients in Ireland. “We strongly believe that a partnership approach and a constructive, open dialogue between all stakeholders is so important to overcome the challenges we face. For our part, GSK’s goal is to continue to be a trusted partner and part of the solution in the provision of healthcare. We all ultimately want the same thing – to deliver the best possible care for patients living in Ireland. “