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GlaxoSmithKline's new CEO prepares to trim drug pipeline

FILE PHOTO: The GlaxoSmithKline building is pictured in Hounslow, west London June 18, 2013.

Luke MacGregor/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - GlaxoSmithKline's (GSK.L) new chief executive, who has already made her mark with plans to divest some nutritional products, will turn next week to the main business of focusing the company's pipeline of new drugs.

Despite her non-pharmaceutical background in consumer brands, Emma Walmsley sees improving drug research productivity as her top priority, and she wants Britain's biggest drugmaker to have fewer but potentially more lucrative new medicine launches in future.

That means axing or licensing out some experimental drugs in non-core therapy areas, while boosting investment - as well as potential early-stage acquisitions - in the most promising fields, according to company insiders.

Even after recent expansion of GSK's vaccines and consumer health units, pharmaceuticals still account for nearly 70 percent of group operating profits.

Yet while GSK now has leading positions in vaccines and consumer health, it has a lackluster record in prescription medicines and has not come up with the kind of multibillion-dollar products launched by big pharma...