GlaxoSmithKline plc

Rank & Score

Rank & Score

Further Reading

Management chapter


Company overview

GlaxoSmithKline is again at the head of the Index. It is the leader in general access to medicine management, research and development activity, capability advancement and drug donation and philanthropy. It makes its entire vaccine portfolio available to developing countries at an equitable price. It has a pro-access approach to patents and licencing. Although it has a code of conduct for ethical marketing that exceeds the basic minimum standards, it is still not fully transparent about its product registration processes. It does not routinely undertake technology transfer, except for vaccines.

Leading practices

  • New Developing Countries and Market Access Unit business model driven equally by commercial and social objectives in 50 emerging markets through partnerships, investment and philanthropy; reinvested approximately USD 6 million in 2011 from developing market profits, into capacity-building and philanthropic projects to strengthen the healthcare infrastructure in Least Developed Countries
  • Open Innovation Strategy, aiming to stimulate research into diseases of the developing world: research scientists from around the world meet at its Tres Cantos campus to work on projects for the developing world, and in 2011 six projects were launched from this open lab
  • Significant price reduction of most of patented products in Least Developed Countries; no patented drug will be priced more than 25% of price in United Kingdom
  • Commitment to make no political contributions in developing countries
  • Following the 2012 fine of USD 3 billion for misleading promotion of a range of drugs including rosiglitazone (Avandia) for the period from January 1997 to 2004, commits to being fully transparent about all breaches of ethical marketing standards, and has set a relevant code of  practice that exceeds IFPMA minimum standards
  • Discloses clinical research results earlier than other companies, following completion of studies, rather than following approval or termination of the medicine 

Notable findings

  • New business function as the single point of strategy and coordination of access to medicine as part of market access strategy, with board-level oversight, quantitative targets, performance evaluation and engagement with numerous relevant stakeholders; incentive scheme rewarding volume growth, encouraging managers to increase access initiatives
  • Code of conducts in place for public lobbying, marketing and bribery and corruption, supported by monitoring and enforcement mechanisms applied to employees and third parties; transparent approach to policy positions on intellectual property and data exclusivity
  • Invests more than any other company in targeting relevant diseases; has a large portfolio of innovative and adaptive research and five instances of intellectual property sharing; engaged in multiple relevant collaborations with commitment that drugs produced as a result of these  partnerships will be available to disease-endemic countries at an affordable price
  • Implemented tiered pricing for large number of relevant diseases, and has introduced inter-country tiered pricing for 32 and intra-country tiered pricing for seven out of 33 of its products in several relevant countries
  • Clear position statement outlining support for TRIPS flexibilities and does not enforce patents in Least Developed Countries; has issued 11 non-exclusive voluntary licences for antiretrovirals and, through the ViiV Healthcare Unit, commits to making entire antiretroviral portfolio available royalty-free to generic manufacturers; is in active negotiations with the Medicines Patent Pool
  • Numerous capability advancement projects in research and development, including four local scientific research partnerships; has strengthened supply chain and quality management standards and is one among the few companies that work with local governments to improve pharmacovigilance
  • Two single-drug donation programmes, with international public health organisations and government health departments, delivered by non-governmental organisations and rigorously selected third parties with a view to ensuring that donated products reach patients; number of sustainable philanthropic programmes

Suggested areas for improvement

  • Reveal more about marketing and promotional programmes
  • Increase number of intellectual property sharing agreements 
  • Be more transparent about drug recalls
  • Provide more details about the criteria for product registration in relevant countries and the status of marketing approvals for each relevant product 
  • Undertake technology transfer and use milestone-based agreements within non-exclusive voluntary licencing activity; participate in the Medicines Patent Pool 

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