RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK –  GSK is buying Canada-based drug maker Bellus Health for some $2 billion in a bid to expand its respiratory drug pipeline. Bellus has a candidate to treat refractory chronic cough, or RCC, in stage 3 clinical trials.

The drug, camlipixant, is “a potential best-in-class,” GSK said in Tuesday’s announcement. No approved medicines for RCC are available in the US and EU.

The deal expands  “GSK’s existing respiratory portfolio, including Nucala and Trelegy, which generated more than a combined 3 billion pounds ($3.73 billion) last year,” reported Reuters.

“It is estimated that 28 million patients suffer from chronic cough, with 10 million patients globally and 6 million in the United States (US) and European Union (EU) suffering from RCC for over a year,” GSK explained.

“RCC is defined as a persistent cough for more than eight weeks that does not respond to treatment for an underlying condition or is otherwise unexplained,” GSK noted. “RCC significantly impacts quality of life, with patients suffering from depression (53%), urinary incontinence (~50%), pain, rib fractures, social withdrawal, and loss of sleep.”

Luke Miels, Chief Commercial Officer at GSK, said in the announcement: “Patients suffering from severe forms of refractory chronic cough can experience over 900 coughs daily, resulting in quality-of-life issues. Camlipixant, a novel, highly selective P2X3 antagonist, has the potential to be a best-in-class treatment with significant sales potential. This proposed acquisition complements our portfolio of specialty medicines and builds on our expertise in respiratory therapies.”

Read the full announcement at:

GSK employs thousands of people in the Triangle .