Access to healthcare

Access to healthcare

Healthy communities are the backbone of strong, sustainable societies. But there are still millions of people without access to basic healthcare. We want to help change this. So we are harnessing our scientific expertise, our partnerships and our global reach to develop and make products for people who need them, wherever they live.

The Access to Medicines Index

Recognising our achievements in bringing access to healthcare, we have consistently ranked top in the Access to Medicines (ATM) Index since it began in 2008. The Index, published every two years, gives an independent assessment of pharmaceutical companies’ efforts to improve access. Our recent ranking as top of the 2014 Index reflects our long-term commitment to bringing access to healthcare across the world.

GSK’s ranking is a fantastic acknowledgement of our continued commitment to help deliver access to healthcare every day"

Sir Andrew Witty, Chief Executive Officer

Justin Forsyth, CEO of Save the Children – with whom GSK has a five-year partnership – commented:

“We are delighted that GSK, our partner in helping to save the lives of one million children, is ranked top of the Index. Looking at how its business can ensure access to medicines for the world’s most vulnerable children is vital for GSK and a key focus of our partnership. Whether it’s through training healthworkers, promoting systems of Universal Health Coverage or developing new, child-friendly medicines, we hope our joint work will continue to have a transformative impact on the lives of children around the world.”

Better access to medicines and vaccines

We want our medicines and vaccines to be accessible to everyone who needs them, no matter where they live or how much they can afford. Flexible pricing of our medicines and vaccines, based on a country’s wealth and ability to pay, generates value for patients and society more widely.

There are no easy solutions to providing sustainable healthcare in developing countries. Many people do not have enough food or access to clean water, let alone access to hospitals or clinics that provide professional help and treatments.

Our dedicated Africa and Developing Country unit – covering 50 countries, including all of sub-Saharan Africa – aims to sell higher volumes of medicines so we are able to sustain lower prices. In the very poorest countries, prices of our patented medicines are kept at no more than 25% of developed world prices. Capped prices apply to brands that treat non-communicable diseases such as asthma and COPD, as well as infectious diseases such as malaria.

Being flexible in our pricing can help to build our business in emerging markets by increasing the overall volume of products we sell. However, our ability to offer not-for-profit or highly preferential prices in the world’s poorest countries is only sustainable if we can continue to make an adequate return on our medicines and vaccines in better-off markets.

This is more challenging in an uncertain economic climate when governments seek to contain healthcare costs. We recognise this challenge and we are working with governments in Europe and the USA to find solutions. We seek to price medicines fairly in these countries and at a level that reflects their value to patients and payers.

Innovation in our laboratories

Discovering and developing new medicines and vaccines requires huge investment, takes a long time and there is a high rate of failure. So if we are to continue to discover new products and get them to the people who need them as quickly as possible, we must continually challenge the way we go about doing things in our labs.

We know we will not discover everything inside our own labs – especially when it comes to treating illnesses that disproportionately affect poorer countries. So we are stimulating innovation in new ways, looking outside our own labs and opening up access to our expertise, our facilities and even our intellectual property.

We opened the doors of our specialist research centre in Spain to scientists from outside GSK, inviting them to collaborate with us on projects to find new medicines for neglected tropical diseases. In 2014, we launched a new ‘open lab’ dedicated to better understanding variations in non-communicable diseases in Africa.

With our partners, the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative, we are developing a potential vaccine against malaria. Read more about GSK’s 30-year search for a vaccine.

Working with others

By working in partnership with non-governmental organisations (NGOs), governments, academic institutions and other companies, we can achieve more for patients than we can alone.

We are a long-standing partner of Gavi, which funds immunisation programmes for some of the world’s poorest countries. Gavi-eligible countries always get our lowest prices, which can be as little as one-tenth of those for developed nations. Gavi supports countries with a GNI per head of less than $1,570. As countries develop and exceed this GNI threshold, they ‘graduate’ from Gavi support. We have committed to freeze vaccine prices for graduating countries for ten years to help them maintain their commitment to immunisation during this transition. We have committed to provide Gavi with more than 850 million vaccine doses at reduced prices to help protect 300 million children in the developing world by 2024.

But we also want to help improve health beyond our products by acting as a catalyst for change. So we reinvest 20% of our profits from least developed countries back into strengthening their health systems – primarily through training health workers with three major NGOs: Amref Health Africa, CARE International and Save the Children. Together, we have so far trained 25,000 frontline health workers in 34 countries and reached more than 6.5 million people.

And in 2013 we formed an innovative five-year partnership with Save the Children to help save 1 million children’s lives. By combining our expertise, resources and capabilities, we will help bring much-needed medicines and vaccines to some of the world’s poorest children, train thousands of healthcare workers, and develop child-friendly medicines. In our maternal and neonatal R&D unit, scientists are developing a gel form of a GSK mouthwash ingredient to help prevent sepsis in newborn babies.