Britain's biggest drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline has no interest in buying smaller rival AstraZeneca, GSK's chief executive said on Thursday in response to a shareholder question at the firm's annual meeting.

AstraZeneca, Britain's second-biggest drugmaker, has suffered repeated drug development setbacks, stoking fears about its long-term prospects given a complete reliance on prescription medicines at a time when rivals have diversified.

The company's future is in flux, following the planned early exit of its CEO David Brennan from June 1, leading some analysts to speculate it might become a takeover target.

GSK CEO Andrew Witty, however, told investors at the company's AGM that buying a big company like AstraZeneca would be “very distracting”.

The question of GSK buying AstraZeneca was raised by a small shareholder, who argued it would be more sensible than GSK's $2.6 billion bid for Human Genome Sciences Inc.

GSK made an unsolicited bid for long-time partner Human Genome Sciences last month, which the U.S. biotech company rejected.

Witty has stated in the past that he does not envisage large acquisitions but is interested in bolt-on buys. - Reuters