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1 Apr 2014

GSK Announces New Strategic Investments in Africa to Increase Access to Medicines, Build Capacity and Deliver Sustainable Growth

Yesterday (31 March 2014), GSK announced a series of new investments in sub-Saharan Africa designed to address pressing health needs and contribute to long-term business growth. Speaking at the 5th EU-Africa Business Forum in Brussels, GSK CEO Sir Andrew Witty set out the company’s intent to partner with governments of African countries to help stimulate more research into chronic diseases, increase capacity by localising medicines supply and strengthen healthcare infrastructure.


This will see GSK make targeted investments of up to £130 million in Africa during the next 5 years, creating at least 500 jobs and contributing to the development of home-grown capabilities and skills in Africa. This builds on GSK’s existing business base in sub-Saharan Africa, which currently employs around 1500 people in more than 40 countries, including at three existing local manufacturing sites in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.


Speaking at the meeting, Andrew Witty said: “Today, we are setting out further steps to tackle Africa’s dual health burden of infectious and emerging non-communicable diseases and help build crucial capacity to underpin the development of the healthcare sector in the region. We have a unique opportunity to deliver meaningful social and economic value to all of the communities we work in — using our scientific expertise and our global reach to develop innovative medicines and deliver them to people who need them around the world.


“With global attention focused on how we support development beyond 2015, now is the moment for business to play a more active role in contributing to a more prosperous future in Africa, investing in infrastructure, building skills and capability to unlock human potential and create jobs. Our long-term goal is to equip Africa to discover, develop and produce the medicines required for Africa.”


Supporting the Development of New Medicines for Africa

GSK will invest £25 million to create the world’s first R&D Open Lab for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Africa. This builds on the success of GSK’s Open Lab in Tres Cantos, Spain which gives independent researchers access to GSK facilities, resources and knowledge to help them advance their own research projects into diseases of the developing world such as malaria, tuberculosis and leishmaniasis.


The new R&D Open Lab for NCDs in Africa will see GSK scientists collaborate with research and scientific centres across Africa from its hub at GSK’s Stevenage R&D facility in the UK to conduct high quality epidemiological, genetic and interventional research to increase understanding of NCDs in Africa. An independent governing board of leading scientists and clinicians will oversee the implementation of NCD research projects within a dynamic and networked open innovation environment.


The open lab aims to improve understanding of NCD variations seen in the Africa setting, which could include for example the apparent higher prevalence of treatment-resistant hypertension and aggressive breast cancers in younger women. It is hoped that these insights will inform prevention and treatment strategies and will enable researchers across academia and industry to discover and develop new medicines to address the specific needs of African patients.


The open lab will directly support the training and education of African scientific researchers who will participate in a portfolio of projects, building local expertise, creating a new generation of African NCD experts while instilling a deep vein of ‘African thinking’ within GSK’s own R&D organisation.


For more information, click here.

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