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GSK announces sale of US rights to depression drug

Drugs group GlaxoSmithKline said on Wednesday that it had sold the US rights to depression drug Wellbutrin XL to Canadian firm Biovail for 338 million pounds.

"GSK today announced that it has entered into an agreement to divest full commercial rights to Wellbutrin XL in the United States to Biovail International Laboratories SRL.. for 340 million pounds," GSK said in a statement. The deal is subject to regulatory approval.

US sales of tablet treatment Wellbutrin XL had plunged 70 percent to 45 million pounds in the first three months of 2009, compared with the figure for the same period of 2008, owing to fierce competition from generic drugmakers.

"We are actively reshaping our US business and managing the transition occurring in our product portfolio," added Deirdre Connelly, GSK's President North American Pharmaceuticals, in the statement.

"This transaction is one of a series of actions we are taking to maximize the value of our current assets and to enable us to resource and invest in new products and upcoming launches."

GSK stressed that it would retain the commercial rights to Wellbutrin XL for all countries outside the United States.

The company had revealed last month that first-quarter net profit plunged 13.5 percent to 1.13 billion pounds -- and blamed competition from generic drugs.

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Publication:AFP European Edition
Date:May 6, 2009
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