GSK to invest £130m in Africa

To increase R&D and build manufacturing capacity and capability in the Continent

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) plans to invest up to £130m in Africa over the next five years to help stimulate more research into chronic diseases, increase capacity by localising medicines supply and strengthen healthcare infrastructure on the continent.

The company will create at least 500 jobs and contribute to the development of home-grown capabilities and skills in Africa. It will build on GSK’s existing business base in sub-Saharan Africa, which currently employs around 1,500 people in more than 40 countries, including at three existing local manufacturing sites in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.

Speaking at the 5th EU-Africa Business Forum in Brussels, GSK CEO Sir Andrew Witty said: '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.

'Our long-term goal is to equip Africa to discover, develop and produce the medicines required for Africa.'

GSK will invest £25m 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.

Our long-term goal is to equip Africa to discover, develop and produce the medicines required for Africa

The African lab will see GSK scientists collaborate with research and scientific centres across Africa from its R&D hub in Stevenage 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 NCD research projects within a dynamic and open innovation environment.

The open lab will support the training and education of African scientific researchers who will participate in a portfolio of projects and build local expertise.

Over the next five years, GSK will look to partner with a number of African countries to develop domestic manufacturing capacity and capability. This will see the company invest up to £100m to expand its manufacturing capability in Nigeria and Kenya and build up to five new factories in Africa. The company is currently reviewing possible locations in Rwanda, Ghana and Ethiopia and the selected sites will be announced in due course.

The new facilities will be built to GMP standards and will make locally relevant products such as antibiotics and respiratory and HIV medicines (on behalf of ViiV Healthcare). The initial focus will be on secondary manufacture with the aim to transfer the technology, skills and knowledge needed to enable the local manufacture of more complex products over time.

To support the scale-up of domestic manufacturing and supply, GSK will establish up to 25 academic chairs at African universities in areas such as pharmaceutical sciences, public health, engineering and logistics.

The new facilities will be built to GMP standards and will make locally relevant products

GSK is also taking steps to improve and simplify its supply chain with the creation of regional supply hubs to help reduce stock shortages in addition to local supply partnerships to enable more GSK products and medicines to reach under-served rural communities in Africa. The company says these steps will help reduce Africa’s reliance on imported medicines, improving the security of supply and reducing production costs and transportation which in time should help contribute to lower prices.

GSK says it will optimise its portfolio of medicines for NCDs by working with its local partner, Aspen, and with regulators to increase the registration of medicines and vaccines in its existing portfolio, such as its Amoxil antibiotic and its Ventolin respiratory medicine, where not already available.

At the same time, the company will continue to develop new products to meet the specific needs of Africa, for example through its ongoing work with partners to develop the world’s first vaccine against malaria and to create new nutritional products to tackle childhood malnourishment.

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