GlaxoSmithKline plc () is a United Kingdom-based pharmaceutical, biological, and healthcare company. GSK is the world's second largest pharmaceutical company and a research-based company with a wide portfolio of pharmaceutical products covering anti-infectives, central nervous system (CNS), respiratory, gastro-intestinal/metabolic, oncology, and vaccines products. It also has a Consumer Healthcare operation comprising leading oral healthcare products, nutritional drinks, and over the counter (OTC) medicines.
GSK was formed by the merger of GlaxoWellcome (formed from the mergers of Burroughs Wellcome & Company and Glaxo Laboratories), and SmithKline Beecham (from Beecham, and SmithKline Beckman).
In 1880, Burroughs Wellcome & Company
was founded in London by American pharmacists Henry Wellcome
and Silas Burroughs
. The Wellcome Tropical Research Laboratories opened in 1902. In 1959 the Wellcome Company bought McDougall & Robertson Inc. to become more active in animal health. The Wellcome Company production centre was moved from New York to North Carolina
in 1970 and the following year another research centre was built.
Glaxo was founded in Bunnythorpe, New Zealand in 1904. Originally Glaxo was a baby food manufacturer processing local milk into a baby food by the same name: the product was sold in the 1930s under the slogan "Glaxo builds bonny babies". Still visible on the main street of Bunnythorpe is a derelict dairy factory (factory for drying and processing cows' milk into powder) with the original Glaxo logo clearly visible, but nothing to indicate that this was the start of a major multinational company.
Glaxo became Glaxo Laboratories, and opened new units in London in 1935. Glaxo Laboratories bought two companies called Joseph Nathan and Allen & Hanburys in 1947 and 1958 respectively. After the Company bought Meyer Laboratories in 1978, it started to play an important role in the US market. In 1983 the American arm Glaxo Inc. moved to Research Triangle Park (US headquarters/research) and Zebulon (US manufacturing) in North Carolina. Burroughs Wellcome and Glaxo merged in 1995 to form GlaxoWellcome. In the same year, GlaxoWellcome opened their Medicine Research Centre in Stevenage, England. Three years later GlaxoWellcome bought Polfa Poznan Company in Poland.
In 1843, Thomas Beecham launched his Beecham's Pills
laxative in England giving birth to the Beecham Group
opened its first factory in St Helens
, England for rapid production of medicines in 1859. By the 1960s it was extensively involved in pharmaceuticals.
In 1830, John K. Smith opened its first pharmacy in Philadelphia. Subsequently, in 1891, Smith, Kline and Company merged with French, Richard and Company. It changed its name to Smith Kline & French Laboratories as it focused more on research in 1929. Years later, Smith Kline & French Laboratories opened a new laboratory in Philadelphia; it then bought Norden Laboratories, a business doing research into animal health.
Smith Kline & French Laboratories bought Recherche et Industrie Thérapeutiques (Belgium) in 1963 to order to focus on vaccines. The Company started to expand globally buying seven laboratories in Canada and the US in 1969. In 1982, it bought Allergan, a manufacturer of eye and skincare products. The Company merged with Beckman Inc. later that year and then changed its name to SmithKline Beckman.
In 1988, SmithKline Beckman bought its biggest competitor, International Clinical Laboratories, and in 1989 merged with Beecham to form SmithKline Beecham plc. The headquarters of the Company were then moved to England. To expand research & development in the US, SmithKline Beecham bought a new research center in 1995. Another new research centre at New Frontiers Science Park in Harlow, England was opened in 1997. But the main centre of focus operates in Dumfriesshire, Scotland.
In 2001, Glaxo Wellcome and SmithKline Beecham merged to form GlaxoSmithKline.
As the second largest pharmaceutical company in the world, based on net income, the company had sales of £22.7 billion and made a profit of £7.8 billion in 2007. It employs around 110,000 people worldwide, including over 40,000 in sales and marketing. Its global headquarters are GSK House in Brentford
, United Kingdom
, with its United States
headquarters based in Philadelphia
and its consumer products division based in the Pittsburgh
suburb of Moon Township, Pennsylvania
. The research and development division has major headquarters in South East England, Philadelphia and Research Triangle Park
(RTP) in North Carolina
The company is listed on the London and New York stock exchanges. The single largest market is in the United States (approximately 45% of revenue), although the company has a presence in almost 70 countries.
In 2007, pharmaceutical sales accounted for £19.2 billion (or 85%) of GSK's total sales. Sales are based around a broad range of products with the most successful (starting with highest sales) being:
- fluticasone/salmeterol Advair a combination of the bronchodilator salmeterol and the steroid fluticasone for treatment of asthma.
- Other Products
- Avandia (rosiglitazone), a PPAR-gamma agonist anti diabetic. Avodart, Avidart, Avolve, Duagen, Dutagen, Dutas (dutasteride), for hair loss in men.
- Boniva, Bondronat, / Bonviva (ibandronic acid), for osteoporosis co marketed by Roche Laboratories.
- Lamictal (lamotrigine), an anticonvulsant used to treat various types of epilepsy and type I bipolar disorder
- Levitra (vardenafil), for (ED) erectile dysfunction.
- Requip / Ropark (ropinirole), for (RLS) restless legs syndrome.
- Valtrex / Zelitrex (valacyclovir), an antiviral drug used in the management of herpes simplex and herpes zoster (shingles) which is very useful in curing some fatal diseases.
- Imigran / Imitrex (sumatriptan), a triptan drug including a sulfonamide group for the treatment of migraine
- Flonase (Fluticasone), for treatment of asthma.
- Coreg (carvedilol), a non-selective beta blocker indicated in the treatment of mild to moderate congestive heart failure.
- Relenza (zanamivir), for Influenzavirus A and Influenzavirus B.
- Seroxat, Paxil, ParoMerck, Rexetin, Aropax, Parotin (Paroxetine), an SSRI anti-depressant. Amerge (naratriptan), a triptan drug including a sulfonamide group for the treatment of migrane.
- Augmentin, a combination anitbiotic containing Amoxicillin and Clavulanic acid.
- Tykerb (lapatinib), a tyrosine kinase inhibitor for oral use.
- Veramyst (fluticasone), for treatment of asthma.
- Vesicare (solifenacin), for bladder control problems co marketed by Astellas Pharma.
- Zantac, / Zinetac (ranitidine),for heartburn.
- Serodus (piboserod), for receptor antagonist.
The Consumer Healthcare portfolio contributed sales of £3.4 billion in 2007, in three main areas:
Work in the community
For many years now GSK has been a leading contributor to a multinational government and industry alliance to rid the world of lymphatic filariasis
). LF threatens over one billion people in 83 countries. Approximately 120 million people are infected with the parasites, 40 million of whom have clinical symptoms of the disease. The Global Alliance to Eliminate LF was formed with the support of the pharmaceutical companies GlaxoSmithKline and Merck
to help countries with LF respond. GSK has donated over 440 million albendazole
tablets to date, which serve as a cornerstone of the program.
Jean-Pierre (JP) Garnier, former CEO of GlaxoSmithKline added, “The Egyptian data shows that we can now eliminate a disease that has plagued the world for centuries. We remain committed to donating as much albendazole as required to eliminate this disabling disease, but ultimate success will depend on continued long-term commitments by all partners across the globe.”
In addition Glaxo has been short-listed for awards such as The Worldaware Business Award for its work to eliminate malaria in Kenya.
GlaxoSmithKline recently donated money to the British flood appeal, and was ranked first on the 2006 UK Corporate Citizenship Index for donations.
- Global Pharmaceutical Operations headquarters in Brentford, United Kingdom with US operations based at Franklin Plaza in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.
- Consumer Products headquarters in Moon Township, Pennsylvania suburb of Pittsburgh
- Major R&D sites in Greenford, United Kingdom; Stevenage, United Kingdom; Harlow, United Kingdom; Ware, United Kingdom; Beckenham, United Kingdom; Verona, Italy; Zagreb, Croatia; Evreux, France; Research Triangle Park, North Carolina; and Upper Merion and Collegeville, Pennsylvania
- Major centre for biopharmaceutical products in Belgium (Wavre and Rixensart)
- New R&D centres in Shanghai, China and Boston, USA
- Major manufacturing sites for prescription products in Irvine, United Kingdom; Ware, United Kingdom; Evreux, France; Montrose, United Kingdom; Barnard Castle, United Kingdom; Crawley, United Kingdom; Ulverston, United Kingdom; Bristol, Tennessee; King of Prussia, Pennsylvania; Zebulon, North Carolina; Cidra, Puerto Rico; Jurong Singapore; Cork, Ireland; and Parma, Italy.
- Major manufacturing sites for consumer products in Maidenhead, United Kingdom; Dungarvan, Ireland; Mississauga, Ontario; Aiken, South Carolina; Clifton, New Jersey; and St. Louis, Missouri
- GSK has a presence in 99 cities across 39 countries
Current members of the board of directors
of GlaxoSmithKline are:
On October 8, 2007 it was announced that Dr Garnier would be succeeded as Chief Executive by Mr Andrew Witty. Mr Witty, 43, has taken up the position in May 2008 and joined the Board.
David Stout, president of Pharmaceuticals operations, and Chris Viehbacher, president of the US Pharmaceuticals division, who lost out to Mr Witty in the succession race, might possibly quit the company. However it was reported in the UK press on 5 December that both executives would receive retention packages worth £2m in the form of shares over the next 2 to 3 years plus a small amount of cash to stay at GlaxoSmithKline.
On December 7, 2007, it was announced that Andrew Witty, CEO Designate, and Chris Viehbacher, President US Pharmaceuticals, have been appointed Executive Directors and will join the Board of the Company with effect from January 31, 2008. It was also announced that David Stout will leave the company in February 2008 after coming third in the competition to succeed JP Garnier.
Tachi Yamada resigned as head of research and development at GSK during 2007 to take up a position working for Bill Gates' charitable foundation. He was replaced by Moncef Slaoui.
GlaxoSmithKline was named one of the 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers in 2007 by Working Mother magazine and was recognized by the International Charter for its efforts. GSK also received a perfect score of 100 percent from the Human Rights Campaign
Foundation's 2008 Corporate Equality Index
, an annual report card of corporate America's treatment of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) employees, customers and investors. GSK also supports employee diversity networks for groups such as ECN, PTPN, GLBT, AAA, etc.
- Paroxetine (Seroxat, Paxil) is an SSRI antidepressant released in 1992 by GlaxoSmithKline. In March 2004 the FDA ordered a black box warning placed on SSRI and other antidepressants, warning of the risk for potential suicidal thinking in children and adolescents. Since the FDA approved paroxetine in 1992, approximately 5,000 U.S. citizens have sued GSK. On January 29 2007, the BBC in the UK broadcast a fourth documentary in its 'Panorama' series about Seroxat.
- In November 2007, a United States Congressional committee released a report describing intimidation of Dr John Buse (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) by GlaxoSmithKline over his concerns about the cardiovascular risks associated with the company's antidiabetes drug Rosiglitazone (Avandia).
- In March 2006, California Attorney General Bill Lockyer announced that "GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) will pay $14 million to resolve allegations that state-government programs paid inflated prices for the firm’s anti-depressant drug Paxil because GSK engaged in patent fraud, antitrust violations and frivolous litigation to maintain a monopoly and block generic versions from entering the market.
- At the AGM on 19 May 2003, GSK shareholders rejected a motion regarding a £22 million pay and benefits package for CEO, JP Garnier. This was the first time such a rebellion by shareholders against a major British company has occurred, but was regarded as a possible turning point against other so-called "fat cat" deals within executive pay structure.
- The company and its shareholders have been targeted by animal rights activists because it is a customer of the controversial animal-testing company, Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS). HLS has been the subject since 1999 of an international campaign by Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) and the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), ever since footage shot covertly by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which was shown on British television, showed staff punching, kicking, screaming and laughing at the animals in their care. On September 7, 2005, the ALF detonated a bomb containing two litres of fuel and four pounds of explosives on the doorstop of the Buckinghamshire home of Paul Blackburn, GSK's corporate controller, causing minor damage.
- In November 2005, AIDS Healthcare Foundation accused the company of boosting its short-term monopoly profit by not increasing production of the anti-AIDS drug AZT despite a surge in demand, hence creating a shortage that affected many AIDS patients in Africa. GSK announced that it had halted clinical trials of the CCR5 entry inhibitor, aplaviroc (GW873140), in HIV-infected, treatment-naive patients because of concerns about severe hepatotoxicity. In June of 2006 GSK said it was further cutting, by about 30%, the not-for-profit prices it charges for some of these medicines in the world's poorest countries.
In 2003 GSK signed a corporate integrity agreement and paid $88 million in a civil fine for overcharging Medicaid
for the antidepressant Paxil
, and nasal-allergy spray Flonase
. Later that year GSK also ran afoul of the Internal Revenue Service
(IRS) and was facing a demand for $7.8 billion in backdated taxes and interest, the highest in IRS history.
On September 12 2006 GSK settled the largest tax dispute in IRS history agreeing to pay $3.1 billion. At issue in the case were Zantac and the other Glaxo Group heritage products sold from 1989–2005. The case was about an area of taxation dealing with intracompany "transfer pricing"—determining the share of profit attributable to the US subsidiaries of GSK and subject to tax by the IRS. Taxes for large multi-divisional companies are paid to revenue authorities based on the profits reported in particular tax jurisdictions, so how profits were allocated among various legacy Glaxo divisions based on the functions they performed was central to the dispute in this case.
In February 2007, the Serious Fraud Office in the UK launched an investigation into allegations of GSK being involved in the discredited oil-for-food sanctions regime in Iraq. They are accused of paying bribes to Saddam Hussein's regime.
On December 22 2006
, a US court decided in Hoorman, et al. v. SmithKline Beecham Corp that individuals who purchased Paxil
(R) or Paxil CR(TM) (paroxetine
) for a minor child may be eligible for benefits under a $63.8 million Proposed Settlement.
The lawsuit stemmed from a consumer advocate protest against Paroxetine manufacturer GSK. Since the FDA approved paroxetine in 1992, approximately 5,000 U.S. citizens – and thousands more worldwide – have sued GSK. Most of these people feel they were not sufficiently warned in advance of the drug's side effects and addictive properties.
According to the Paxil Protest website,, hundreds more lawsuits have been filed against GSK. The Paxil Protest website was launched August 8, 2005 to offer both information about the protest and information on Paxil previously unavailable to the public. Just three weeks after its launch, the site received more than a quarter of a million hits. The original Paxil Protest website was removed from the internet in 2006. It is understood that the action to take down the site was undertaken as part of a confidentiality agreement or 'gagging order' which the owner of the site entered into as part of a settlement of his action against GlaxoSmithKline. (However, in March 2007, the website Seroxat Secrets discovered that an archive of Paxil Protest site was still available on the internet via Archive.org) Gagging orders are common in such cases and can extend to documents that defendants wish to remain hidden from the public. However in some cases, such documents can become public at a later date, such as those made public by Dr. Peter Breggin in February of 2006.
In January 2007, according to the Seroxat Secrets website, the national group litigation in the United Kingdom, on behalf of several hundred people who allege withdrawal reactions through their use of the drug Seroxat, against GlaxoSmithKline plc, moved a step closer to the High Court in London, with the confirmation that Public Funding had been reinstated following a decision by the Public Interest Appeal Panel. The issue at the heart of this particular action claims Seroxat is a defective drug in that it has a propensity to cause a withdrawal reaction. Hugh James Solicitors have confirmed this news.
In March 2008 The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency concluded that GSK should have warned of the possible ill effects of taking Seroxat a lot sooner. GSK could not be prosecuted under the old legislation, but the law has now been changed.
On March 27, 2007, GSK pleaded guilty in an Auckland District Court to 15 charges relating to misleading conduct brought against them under the Fair Trading Act by New Zealand's Commerce Commission. The charges related to a popular blackcurrant
fruit drink Ribena
which the company had led consumers to believe contained high levels of vitamin C
. As part of a school science project, two 14-year-old school girls (Anna Devathasan and Jenny Suo) from Pakuranga College
) discovered that ready-to-drink juice sold in 100ml containers contained very little vitamin C. Approaches by the two teens to the company didn't resolve the issue but after the matter was publicised on a national consumer affairs television show (Fair Go
) the matter came to the attention of the Commerce Commission (a government funded 'consumer watch-dog'). The commission's testing found that ready-to-drink Ribena contained no detectable vitamin C.
The company was fined $217,000 for the 15 charges. The number of charges was reduced from 88 and covered a period from March 2002 to March 2006. GSK maintains that it did not intend to mislead consumers and that the advertising claims were based on testing procedures that have since been changed. It was ordered to run an advertising campaign to provide the facts after it admitted misleading the public about the vitamin C component in its Ribena drink. Through its lawyer, Adam Ross, the company accepted Commerce Commission allegations that claims that ready-to-drink Ribena contained 7mg of vitamin C per 100ml, or 44 per cent of the recommended daily intake, were incorrect. The company also agreed television advertising claiming the blackcurrants in Ribena had four times the vitamin C of oranges, while literally true, were likely to mislead consumers about the relative levels of vitamin C in Ribena.