The 'Change the World' list recognizes companies that have made significant progress in sustainable, scalable approaches to addressing societal problems as part of their company strategy.
Our ranking reflects the dedication and commitment of our people around the world to modernise the way we do business. We’ve changed how we incentivise our sales professionals, furthered our partnership with Save the Children, gained a positive scientific opinion for our malaria vaccine candidate, opened up access to our intellectual property and committed to reinvesting 20% of our profits made in Least Developed Countries (LDCs) back into strengthening their health systems.
Challenging the traditional pharma model
The traditional pharmaceutical business model, designed decades ago, has been supported largely by a population of around 600 million, mostly throughout the US and Western Europe. This model has led to some critical breakthroughs, and significant progress in cancer life expectancy.
The challenge: this model risks leaving behind 6 billion people.
These are people mostly in low- and middle-income countries, facing diseases not often experienced in developed markets and often unable to afford treatment.
Recognising this trend, over the last decade, we have made industry leading changes to modernise and re-shape our business. These changes are helping us to address the needs not just of the 600 million, but of all 7 billion around the world, and to ensure our long-term sustainability and profitability.
Here are some of the changes we have made:
- In Developing Countries across Africa and Asia, we are investing to stimulate research of diseases, increase access, build capacity, and deliver sustainable growth. Our vision is to make our products available to more patients and consumers than ever before (PDF). This isn’t philanthropy; it’s a new way of doing business.
- We are advancing one of the most extensive portfolios of R&D projects, with approximately 40 assets in development in areas such as respiratory, HIV and oncology - 80% have potential to be first in class. We’re also investing in research to target diseases of the developing world, with research in both treatment and prevention of all three of the WHO’s priority diseases: HIV and AIDS, TB, and malaria. Further, we have opened our laboratory doors to bring together the best minds in research. New partnerships helped us to radically cut timelines for our Ebola vaccine candidate and we are working with the WHO to advance large-scale pilot projects in Africa with the world’s first malaria vaccine.
- To ensure access for those who need it most, we have pioneered a tiered pricing approach, capping the prices of our medicines in LDCs at no more than 25% of prices charged in developed countries. We’re also re-investing 20% of profits made in LDC back into healthcare infrastructure in those countries. This focus on higher-volume, lower-margins has been good for business and society. Since 2009 we’ve re-invested 20% of our profits back into 35 LDCs, helping support the training of 40,000 frontline health workers and reaching 11 million people.
- We're expanding our graduated approach to patents and intellectual property to widen access to medicines in the world’s poorest countries, including our intent to commit future cancer products to patent pooling.
- Our ambitious global partnership with Save the Children where we are sharing our expertise and resources with the aim of helping to save one million children’s lives. Three years into the partnership we have now reached 1.3 million children. Earlier this year, European regulators endorsed an antiseptic gel, developed through the GSK and Save the Children partnership, for newborn umbilical cord infections.
- Our recent ViiV Healthcare agreement with the Botswana Ministry of Health to support the implementation of a first ‘Treat All’ programme for HIV in sub-Saharan Africa, where 70% of people have HIV.
At the heart of FORTUNE’s “Change the World” list is a belief that good business is also good for society. Our focus on improving access and affordability, regardless of where people live or their ability to pay, makes both moral and business sense.