GlaxoSmithKline's chief executive has opened the possibility of the group being broken up in the future as he pushes through a sweeping overhaul of Britain's biggest drugmaker.
Sir Andrew Witty said GSK had the option to spin off its consumer healthcare business if a time came when it offered more value as a standalone company.
He made clear there were no such plans in the near term but, by raising it as a possibility, he signaled his openness to further restructuring at a time of mounting challenges for the company.
A profits warning last week increased pressure on Sir Andrew after a torrid year in which GSK has been mired in a damaging Chinese bribery scandal.
However, in an interview with the Financial Times, he declared confidence that his strategy was on track to deliver fresh growth.
Much of his optimism stems from a $20 billion deal with Novartis in April under which the pair swapped a series of assets and agreed to set up a joint venture in consumer healthcare.
The JV, to be controlled by GSK, would create one of the world's biggest consumer healthcare businesses with annual sales of more than $10bn from brands including Aquafresh toothpaste, Panadol painkillers and Nicotinell smoking cessation gum.
GSK will own 63.5 per cent of the JV when it is launched next year, with Novartis having the right to sell its stake to GSK after three years.