GlaxoSmithKline plc

Stock Exchange: XLON • Ticker: GSK • HQ: Brentford, UK • Employees: 101,255

Ranking by technical area
Ranking by strategic pillar


GSK is in 1st place for the fifth time. It is the most access-oriented company in the Index, with a clear access-to-medicine strategy that aligns with its corporate strategy, and company-wide ownership and accountability for access. Its leadership is reflected in many areas: it has clearly committed to R&D for low- and middle-income countries, bases R&D partnerships on access-oriented terms, and has the most R&D projects that target independently identified, high-priority product gaps. It leads in product donations and in applying equitable pricing strategies, and is a leader in voluntary licensing and capacity building. However, GSK falls back in compliance: e.g., it was found to have breached criminal law in China for bribery. GSK has taken steps to prevent such breaches in the future, including eliminating individual sales targets.

Change since 2014

Has new policy for mitigating risks of conflicts of interest following recruitment from the public sector.

Was found to have breached laws and codes related to corruption and unethical marketing multiple times, including a breach of criminal law in China for bribery.

Has made progress toward four specific R&D commitments, and toward one to improve clinical trial data transparency.

Has multiple new R&D IP-sharing agreements (via WIPO Re:Search).

Signed the Declaration by the Pharmaceutical, Biotechnology and Diagnostics Industries on Combating Antimicrobial Resistance.

Has more products with equitable pricing strategies than in 2014.

Improves its accountability for its sales agents’ pricing practices.

Commits to disclosing the status of its patents in the future.

Publishes a new policy on not ling for or enforcing patents in Least Developed Countries and low-income countries.

Commits to licensing products in lower-middle-income countries.

Increases capacity building efforts, with an innovative approach to building R&D capacity in Africa that targets local skills gaps.


Continue innovating to strengthen compliance systems. GSK has introduced innovative initiatives and policies to strengthen its compliance with laws and regulation. It has an opportunity to further foster innovation in this area, and to share its findings with the industry.

Provide pricing guidelines to third-party sales agents. GSK can provide pricing guidelines as a standard practice to third-party sales agents (distributors, wholesalers, etc.) in low- and middle-income countries, depending on the local market, supply chain, and legal and regulatory systems.

Publish information about products’ registration status. GSK can publish the registration status of all of its products, providing information on where each product has been led for registration and where it has been approved, as well as the dates of registration, per country.

Operationalise new commitment to engaging in voluntary licensing. GSK can actively identify generic medicine manufacturing partners for the non-exclusive voluntary licensing of products for high-burden diseases outside of HIV/AIDS. Possible products could include fluticasone furoate (Flixotide®), and salbutamol (Ventolin®), both first-line treatments for respiratory diseases listed on the WHO Model Essential Medicines List (EML). In support of this commitment, GSK can also fulfil its commitment to disclose patent statuses.

Continue to target known needs through innovative and adaptive R&D. GSK should leverage its strength at engaging in R&D that addresses global health priorities. The company can continue to develop diverse product types that target defined, high-priority product gaps.

Ensure access to products on the WHO EML. GSK has one of the largest numbers of products on the WHO Model Essential Medicines List (EML). GSK can evaluate access barriers to these products in all low- and middle-income countries. It can ensure their availability and affordability, aligning with demand and the availability of alternative products in specific countries.

Sales and operations

GSK operates through three divisions: pharmaceuticals, vaccines and consumer healthcare. Its core areas of research in pharmaceuticals are: HIV/AIDS and infectious diseases, oncology, immuno-inflammation, respiratory and rare diseases. Sales in emerging markets account for approximately 25% of total sales. GSK holds a 77.4% stake in ViiV Healthcare, a joint venture with Pfizer and Shionogi focused on the research, development, and commercialization of HIV/AIDS medicines. In 2014, the company acquired Novartis’ vaccine business (excluding its influenza vaccines), and divested its marketed oncology portfolio to Novartis in return. As part of the deal, the two companies created a new consumer healthcare business, with GSK retaining majority control.

Sales in countries in scope
Sales by division
Sales by region

Portfolio and pipeline

GSK has one of the largest portfolios of relevant products, and a similarly large pipeline of projects that address the needs of people in countries in scope: with 111 medicines and vaccines, and 57 R&D projects. It has a wide range of off-patent products that are still relevant for diseases in scope: e.g., albendazole (Zentel®) for soil-transmitted helminthiasis, amitriptyline for unipolar depressive disorders and migraine prophylaxis, amoxicillin (Amoxyl®) for infectious diseases and clopidogrel (Gridokline®) for ischaemic heart disease.

Products per disease category

GSK’s portfolio includes products for multiple infectious diseases, HIV/AIDS, neglected tropical diseases and mental health conditions.

Among its most recently registered products are first-line treatments for asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder and HIV/AIDS. Its diverse pipeline targets all four disease categories in scope. Since 2014, ten of GSK’s R&D projects progressed along the pipeline: including vaccines for paediatric respiratory syncytial virus and malaria, which moved into clinical development. Many of its R&D projects target independently identified, high-priority product gaps, including its preventive vaccine candidates for HIV/AIDS, malaria, TB, typhoid fever and shigellosis.

Pipeline projects

GSK has multiple R&D partnerships based on terms for ensuring access to successful products. Together these cover all disease categories, with partners including Fiocruz, Johnson & Johnson and Monash University.

First-line treatments and essential medicines

GSK has a high proportion of medicines listed on the WHO EML and/or as first-line treatments: e.g., abacavir (Ziagen®), lamivudine (Zeffix®) and fluticasone (Flixotide®).

Pipeline by stage of development
– Innovative medicines and vaccines

GSK’s innovative pipeline includes several maternal and neonatal health projects: retosiban for spontaneous pre-term labour, a maternal vaccine for respiratory syncytial virus and a Group B Streptococcus vaccine.

Pipeline by stage of development
– Adaptive medicines and vaccines

GSK is adapting a range of products, including paediatric formulations, fixed-dose combinations and products with new routes of administration. It is adapting a component of its candidate malaria vaccine for thermostability.

Please refer to the pdf of the report card (that can be downloaded here) for information on GSK’s performance per technical area.

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