One of the world's top ten pharmaceutical companies
GSK makes the list because they are massive, pay big dividends and couldn’t be left out. If that’s what you think, you couldn’t be wronger.
Over the past ten years, GlaxoSmithKline has played a decisive role in transforming the pharmaceuticals industry from greedy global baddie responsible for withholding life-saving treatments from the world’s poorest, to very much part of the solution.
A big turning point was in 2010 when the company announced it would cap its drug prices for the world’s poorest companies at no more than 25% of UK prices, and put a number of patents relevant to tropical diseases into a common pool that anyone could investigate and deploy. It was a dramatic move that stunned big pharma, but within a few years, most of the industry was on board. In 2014, GSK developed the world’s first malaria vaccine which it made available at 5% above cost.
As a testament to the change in culture at the company – and within the industry – wrought during the tenure of Sir Andrew Witty (CEO, 2008-2017), GSK has ranked number one in the Access to Medicine Foundation index every year since inception in 2008. The Foundation ‘stimulates and guides pharmaceutical companies to do more for the people living in low- and middle-income countries without access to medicine.’
Sir Andrew was replaced by Emma Walmsley as CEO in April 2017, one of just seven women bosses in the FTSE 100, and the first female head of a big pharma business.
Walmsley has laid out plans to streamline the business to focus on profitability, without cutting the R&D budget, and has said that she hopes GSK will get at least six new drug approvals in 2020.