GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) gives anxiety, asthma, and other ailments the ax. One of the top five pharmaceutical firms in the world, GSK's bestsellers include respiratory, neurological, cardiovascular and dermatology drugs, as well as vaccines and antivirals. Its top product is asthma medication Advair (aka Seretide), which combines two of its other asthma products, Flovent and Serevent. Other bestsellers include epilepsy treatment Lamictal, cholesterol medicine Lovaza, and prostate enlargement treatment Avodart. GSK's consumer products include Tums, dental care products Aquafresh and Sensodyne, and smoking-cessation products NicoDerm and Nicorette. In 2015 GSK bought Novartis’ Vaccines and Consumer Health business, and sold its cancer drugs business to the same company.
GSK operates through three primary segments – Pharmaceuticals, Consumer Healthcare and Vaccines. Pharmaceuticals is the largest by far, pulling in some 60% of revenue.
The Pharmaceuticals business develops and makes medicines that treat a wide variety of acute and chronic diseases. Respiratory drugs is its largest sales category, primarily due to blockbuster Advair, which brings in around £4 billion annually. Other respiratory products include Ventolin, Relvar, and Flixotide. GSK also has a strong presence in the HIV market (through majority-owned ViiV Healthcare), as well as the central nervous system treatment market alongside cardiovascular, urogenital, dermatology (through its Stiefel division), virology, infectious disease, and metabolism.
Consumer Healthcare products fall into the oral health, wellness, nutrition, and skin health categories, with top sellers including Sensodyne, Panadol, and Horlicks. The segment also makes key brands Theraflu, Polident and Abreva. GSK sells these products in more than 150 countries around the world, with around 40% of sales in emerging markets. In 2015, GSK combined its consumer health care operations with those of Novartis to create a global leader in the consumer health market.
The Vaccines business is a global leader, with around 40 pediatric, adolescent, adult, and travel vaccines on the market. Its Infanrix childhood vaccine for diptheria and tetanus leads the pack, followed by products for the prevention of hepatitis, pneumonia, rotavirus, and influenza, with brands including Cervarix and Pediarix vaccines and antibiotic Augmentin. As part of the Novartis acquisition GSK gained two meningitis vaccines, Menveo and Bexsero.
GSK has more than 80 manufacturing facilities in 36 countries. The group's major R&D centers are located in the UK, the US, Belgium, and China. It has a presence in more than 115 countries.
The US and Europe pull in around 61% of revenue, but the company’s biggest chunk of revenue come from international markets. Japan is the largest international market and accounts for nearly 10%.
Sales and Marketing
The company markets its products directly to hospitals, pharmacies, doctors, and other health care consumers; it also uses wholesale distributors in some markets and serves customers in more than 150 countries overall.
Note: Growth rates may differ after conversion to US dollars.
Sales grew 6% to £23.9 billion in 2015, reflecting the contribution to sales of the acquired Vaccines and Consumer Health businesses from Novartis. Acquired products that aided growth include Voltaren and Otrivin in Consumer Health, as well as the acquired Meningitis product portfolio. Pharmaceuticals, the biggest segment by revenue at around 60% of total, was down on prior year due to a decline in sales for big-selling Advair.
Growth rates in the US and Europe were affected by exchange rate effects. In real terms the US grew 11% and Europe 3%, but at constant exchange rates Europe grew more strongly at 11%.
Net income rose to £8.3 billion from £2.8 in 2014. This 300% jump came from the net proceeds of the Novartis asset-swap.
Cash from operating activities fell to £2.5 billion from £5.2 in 2014 (which in turn was a fall from £7.2 in 2013). This fall was due to payments of non-core restructuring and integration costs and tax payments on the divested oncology business of £1 billion.
The company was also hit by a record fine of $490 million from Chinese authorities after the company was found to have bribed doctors to promote their products.
GSK undertook a restructuring program in 2014-15 that included the divestment of the meningitis vaccine program and which brought savings across the business of £1 billion, which exceeded expectations by £200 million. Part of these savings are to be funneled into R&D development across GSK’s three business units.
In 2015 GSK completed a major asset swap with Novartis that reshaped its operations. It paid Novartis $7.8 billion for that company's vaccine business while collecting up to $16 billion for handing over its oncology line. The two companies are also combining their consumer products lines to create the world's top provider of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines. Altogether, the three-part deal is expected to add £1.3 billion to GSK's bottom line and strengthen its core OTC and vaccine businesses.
The company divested its oncology division to focus on its core operations, and the sale provides an immediate cash injection. In mid 2016, GSK sold its portfolio of anaesthetic drugs for £280 million to Aspen Pharmacare, a South African pharma with which GSK has a long association. The sales comes as part of a drive to focus on core business.
As sales in the US, GSK's largest market, account for about a third of pharmaceutical sales, maintaining a rich portfolio of US patent-protected products can make or break the company's future. For example, cardiovascular drug Lovaza began facing generic competition in 2014 and fell 54% that year. Other established products that have experienced sales slumps due to patent losses include best-selling herpes drug Valtrex and anti-depressant Paroxetine (marketed as Seroxat and Paxil).
GSK is also working to pump potential new blockbusters into its pipeline by acquiring promising research firms and forming development agreements with other drug companies. The company is working with pharmaceutical firms Pfizer and Shionogi on HIV medications through ViiV Healthcare; many of the company's HIV and vaccine development programs aim to provide affordable disease preventions and treatments to developing countries.
In mid-2016, GSK went into partnership with Verily, Google owner Alphabet's life science division, to form Galvani Bioelectronics, which will research, develop and commercialize bioelectronic medicine. The two companies will invest a combined £540 million over five years, and GSK will hold a 55% equity interest.