Pharmaceuticals

Our Pharmaceuticals business develops and makes a broad range of medicines to treat both acute and chronic diseases.

As a business, it is the company’s biggest financial contributor and generated sales of £15.5 billion in 2014, representing 67% of the total turnover of GSK.

The business is focused on a number of global franchises across more than 8 therapy areas and a number of platforms, including the emerging bioelectronics technology. Our portfolio is made up of both patent-protected and off-patent medicines.

Our marketplace

The global pharmaceuticals market is vast.  The biggest areas of growth over recent years have been from the emerging markets and Asia Pacific regions. 

This trend of increasing demand is expected to continue as the world’s population grows, economies in the emerging markets become more prosperous and global changes in lifestyles affect long-term health.

Our strategy

Our Pharmaceuticals business creates value by researching and manufacturing innovative products and making these as widely accessible as possible to countries at all levels of income and development.

While we continue to have a strong presence in developed markets such as the USA and Europe, we are increasing investment in emerging markets, including Africa, where we see significant growth potential.

Our franchises

Within our Pharmaceuticals business, we have seven franchises, each focused on specific research areas: respiratory; HIV; immuno-inflammation and infectious diseases; cardiovascular, metabolic and neurosciences; oncology; dermatology; and rare diseases.       

We regard our respiratory and HIV franchises as being core to our future, given our long track record in this area, the scale of business and the innovation coming through our pipeline. 

Over the past 40 years, we have invested more in respiratory research than any other company. We invented our first asthma treatment in the 1960’s and it remains an important part of our respiratory portfolio, generating global sales of more than £650 million in 2014. Our respiratory portfolio accounted for approximately a quarter of our total turnover in 2014. We continue to develop and enhance our respiratory portfolio and in 2014 had two further products approved.

Our HIV business has grown from the early days where we created the first treatment for HIV/Aids in the 1980s.  Today, the business and sales of our HIV medicines (£1.5 billion in 2014) are managed through ViiV Healthcare, a joint-venture with Pfizer and Shionogi in which we hold the majority stake. The continued building its dolutegravir-based regimen portfolio, with the launch of a new single pill treatment and has a number of potential new HIV products in the pipeline.

Our performance in the oncology (cancer) area has led to the development of a portfolio of innovative medicines.  However, this is a highly competitive market and we do not have the same scale as a number of our competitors. For this reason, we have announced our intention to divest our marketed oncology products to Novartis, as part of a three part agreement.

Outside of the franchises, we also have a number of mature products, some of which are off-patent.  Classified as our Established Products Portfolio (EPP), these products are typically not promoted in the USA or Europe, but remain an important part of our business in emerging markets.

Focus on best science

If we are to continue to discover new medicines and get them to the patients who need them as quickly as possible, we must invest in research. In 2014, 80% (£2.5 billion) of our total R&D spend (£3.1 billion) was invested into the search for new pharmaceutical medicines.   Our strategy is to increase our productivity in R&D and improve our rate of innovation, while we control our costs.

The journey to discovering and developing new medicines is lengthy, expensive and subject to a high rate of failure. Learn more about how we discover new medicines. 

We are exploring different approaches to promote – and speed up – innovation in our labs.  Having broken down the traditional, industrialised R&D model, our scientists now work in smaller units focused on specific areas of research. This encourages greater entrepreneurialism and accountability. These groups are tasked with seeking out the biological targets involved in disease and creating molecules or biopharmaceuticals that will ultimately become new medicines. 

We also know that we won’t discover everything inside our own labs and that we need to partner with other companies, academic institutions and research charities.  We currently have research collaborations with more than 3,000 external organisations and this number is growing every year.

We also recognise our responsibility to meet society’s expectations to invest in disease areas where the science is difficult or where the typical business model to reward innovation may not be relevant; one example being our antibiotics research.   We are also one of the few healthcare companies researching the World Health Organization’s three priority diseases - HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Find out more about how we are fighting disease in the developing world.