Is GSK’s CEO-Andrew Witty’s- Chancellorship Of The University Of Nottingham A Paradigm Of Institutional Hypocrisy?



Sir-Andrew-Witty_DSC9994-reducedUniversity of N


“…Peter C Gøtzsche, MD exposes the pharmaceutical industries and their charade of fraudulent behavior, both in research and marketing where the morally repugnant disregard for human lives is the norm….”

“The main reason we take so many drugs is that drug companies don’t sell drugs, they sell lies about drugs. This is what makes drugs so different from anything else in life”

(May 13th 2015)

Impact caught up with the University’s Chancellor, Sir Andrew Witty, to discuss his appointment, being CEO of GlaxoSmithKline and the £12m donation made to the University.

Witty accepted his position as UoN’s seventh Chancellor at the official inauguration ceremony on 12th March. Witty said he enjoyed the ceremony, although he was glad when it was finished. “It’s not something that I am particularly used to but it was very enjoyable. It’s important for institutions like this to have some history and tradition.”

Witty has maintained close ties with the University since graduating with a BA in Economics in 1985.

In 2012 GlaxoSmithKline, of which Witty is CEO, donated £12,000,000 towards the construction of new research laboratories at the University, raising questions about whether the donation was, in part, responsible for his appointment.

Witty also addressed concerns that the ethical scandals in which GSK have been implicated in recent years, including last year’s £1.9 billion fraud case, would compromise the emphasis that Vice-Chancellor David Greenaway places on ‘social responsibility’.

(May 31st 2013)

“This company has been investigated for bribery allegations in many countries. From our investigation, bribery is part of the strategy of this company. This is why they have bribery activities in China,” said Gao Feng, the head of the economic crimes investigation unit at the Ministry of Public Security.”…

(15 Jul 2013)

“Today’s multibillion-dollar settlement is unprecedented in both size and scope,” Deputy Attorney General James Cole said at Monday’s news conference. “We are determined to stop practices that jeopardize patients’ health, harm taxpayers, and violate the public trust.”

(Wall Street Journal July 2012)

I have been documenting GSK (and Seroxat) for almost nine years now, and the sheer scale of unscrupulous, dishonest, corrupt and sociopathic behavior, which this massively powerful and wealthy pharmaceutical company engages in, on a yearly (or perhaps monthly, weekly, and daily) basis, never ceases to amaze me.

(Read GSK Whistleblower Greg Thorpe’s Department Of Justice Complaint which resulted in GSK’s 3 Billion dollar fine in 2012 for hundreds of examples of systemic fraud and corruption).

GSK seem to get away with this systemic corruption because they operate above the law. Despite the immense harm they have done to consumers for decades now, and despite billions of dollars in fines, department of justice,  serious fraud office- and regulatory- investigations, the top brass remains largely unaccountable.

It’s easy to blame the weakness of the law, and GSK’s influence on government and the regulators. These are undoubtedly factors, but what about GSK’s influence on institutions such as major Universities? What about GSK CEO Andrew Witty’s chancellorship of Nottingham University? Is this not an unethical appointment? Should this University not be embarrassed and ashamed that their chancellor is also the CEO of one of the most  devious, corrupt and fraudulent corporations on the planet?

In January 2013 the University of Nottingham appointed Andrew Witty as its chancellor. The previous year GSK had donated 12 million to the university. That same year of the donation (2012) GSK were fined 3 billion US dollars (the largest health care fraud settlement in US history) after an intensive department of Justice investigation into the company. Furthermore, the year that Witty was made chancellor (2013) was also the year that GSK were caught operating a massive bribery operation in China. In 2014 they were fined 297 million pounds by the Chinese government, and their head of operations there, Mark Reilly, was expelled from the country with a suspended sentence. They are currently under investigation by the UK’s serious fraud office, and are weathering allegations of bribery/fraud networks in several other countries.

However these breeches of ethics (thoroughly disgraceful though they are) don’t reveal in any way the (very real) human damage to patients.

The human destruction behind GSK’s various fraudulent acts are harrowing.

For example, it is estimated that millions of kids were exposed to GSK’s Seroxat drug for many years, despite a recent study revealing that Seroxat is ineffective and extremely harmful in under 18’s. There are potentially tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of cases of child self harm, suicide, and attempted suicide linked to this one GSK drug alone (and the damage to the adult population is similar).

Seroxat should not have been encouraged in this age group, yet GSK promoted it directly to kids (off label): Is this not utterly reprehensible behavior by GSK?

How does the University of Nottingham reconcile its close ties with GSK, and Andrew Witty, in light of these disturbing facts about GSK’s systemic unethical behavior over the years?

In 2012 (the year that GSK paid the US 3 Billion for killing and harming kids and adults with their fraudulent medications) the University of Nottingham began a 7.9 million pounds anti-corruption project, which aimed to :

“…investigate the causes of corruption; how corruption can be measured; and the impact of corruption on different aspects of human wellbeing..”

Quite how the University of Nottingham reconciles this huge anti-corruption study in the college with GSK’s Andrew Witty as head of one of the most (documented as) corrupt corporations in the world, and also as chancellor of the University of Nottingham itself- is beyond me.

This type of thing goes beyond hypocrisy and irony… it’s diabolically absurd. The causes of corruption are quite obvious and GSK is a paradigm of institutional corruption (right on Nottingham university’s doorstep).

Money, individual self interest, institutional self interest,  bribery, greed, and sociopathic, unscrupulous behavior. These are the factors that eventually embed corruption into the core of the culture of companies like GSK. The impact of this corruption is also obvious: it leads to discontent and distrust, and of course immense harm to human well being; particularly if you are a child, or a parent of a child- not warned about the dangers of a medication like Seroxat.

“A DISTRAUGHT mother has called for changes in the law after her teenage daughter hanged herself while taking a controversial anti-depressant.

Sharise Gatchell, 18, underwent a complete personality change when she took Seroxat, which hit the headlines just two weeks after the teenager’s death.

Sharise’s mum Stephanie said the drug ‘scared her’ and she asked the teenager not to take it again. But the Newhaven teenager secretly went back on the anti-depressant — and just weeks later she hanged herself while her parents were away for the weekend”..

(Monday 29 September 2003)

David Healy, professor of psychiatry at Bangor University in Wales, said it was hard to see how so many suicidal children could have been overlooked. “We think if you were to go in and look at this data, anyone without training will find there are at least of the order of 12 children becoming suicidal on this drug out of about 93 [who were given it],” he said.

“This is a very high rate of kids going on to become suicidal. It doesn’t take expertise to find this. It takes extraordinary expertise to avoid finding it.”

In an article published with the re-analysis, Peter Doshi, associate editor of the BMJ, said the new paper “has reignited calls for retraction of the original study, putting additional pressure on academic and professional institutions to publicly address the many allegations of wrongdoing.”

In that same year, more than two million prescriptions for paroxetine were written for adolescents and children in the United States, on the back of an advertising campaign which claimed the trial had shown “remarkable efficacy and safety”. GSK was fined $3bn in 2012 for fraudulently promoting the drug”..

(September 16th 2015)

Does the University of Nottingham care about ethics? Do the academic staff care about human rights? If so- then why do they tolerate having GSK’s CEO, Andrew Witty, as their chancellor, surely this is a blatant breach of the college charter? Is the appointment of Andrew Witty as chancellor not a blatant devaluing of the college’s ethical code? Is it not an insult to the students themselves?

What do academics such as Nottingham’s Professor David Harris think of this? (Dr Harris is a renowned human rights scholar).


Are GSK’s history of flagrant patient/consumer abuses (with drugs such as Seroxat, Avandia and Pandemrix, and encouraging prescribing off label of many of their other drugs)  also considered human rights abuses? or do they not qualify? Is suppressing data leading to the deaths of children a human rights issue? Is hiding side effects, denying the effects of dependence, and not reporting withdrawal symptoms an infringement of a prescription drug users rights?

What does Nottingham’s Professor Paul Heywood think of GSK’s corrupt shenanigans in the US and China? (and the various other probes into corruption by GSK elsewhere). Heywood is an academic who specializes in many aspects of global corruption, and is involved in many studies into corruption.

Is he aware, for example, that recently- it seems- GSK might have broken their corporate integrity agreement with the US Dept Of Justice? What does he think of that?

How can the University of Nottingham claim to be serious about tackling corruption (both academically and institutionally) when it has the CEO of one of the most corrupt corporations in the world as its chancellor?

Prof Heywood corruotion

“Professor Heywood is author, co-author or editor of sixteen books and more than eighty journal articles and book chapters. His research focuses on political corruption, institutional design and state capacity in contemporary Europe. Current funded research includes an ESRC/Hong Kong project on Integrity Management in the UK, HK and China, and an EU FP7 project, ANTICORRP, on anti-corruption policies. He is also currently the UK Local Research Correspondent on Corruption (2012-14) for the European Commission’s DG Home Affairs, helping to produce an EU Anti-Corruption Report.”


Paul Heywood appointed Programme Leader of anti-corruption research partnership

The School of Politics and International Relations is delighted to announce that Paul Heywood has been appointed Programme Leader of a £3.6 million BA/DfID initiative to fund international research to identify the most successful ways of addressing corruption in developing countries. To support him in the role, Paul has been awarded a grant of £117.5k that will allow for partial buy-out from his duties at Nottingham until June 2018.

The British Academy (BA) and the Department for International Development (DFID) evidence partnership aims to support world-leading multi-disciplinary research towards effective policy making and interventions. The partnership will address evidence gaps in what works in reducing corruption.

The initiative forms one component of a wider DfID Anti-Corruption Evidence (ACE) programme, that will run for three years and will also involve a new Anti-Corruption Research Partnership Consortium focussing on two themes: (i) the inter-dependencies between anti-corruption interventions and their impact on corruption; (ii) the private sector and economic growth.

Paul’s success is indicative of the high regard in which his research on corruption and governance is held.

Posted on Monday 5th October 2015

I started this blog in 2007, and i thought by documenting GSK (and in particular their dangerous Seroxat/Aropax/Paxil drug) something would eventually be done about their behavior. I imagined that someone in power, either in the US or the UK, would stop them from being so unethical. I hoped that someone, somewhere, would see that the damage to patients from a drug like Seroxat is just unacceptable. There are many of us (me included) who have been damaged because of GSK’s corrupt behavior. I’m just one individual damaged by one GSK medication (and their failure to warn me of side effects) but there there are countless consumers of GSK products damaged and harmed on a global scale

I thought, by raising awareness of GSK’s misdeeds, someone would put a stop to this unethical and immoral abuse of patient and consumer rights? This hasn’t happened yet.

GSK get away with abuse of patients and consumers, bribery, fraud and corruption, because not enough doctors, academics, or government personnel, dare to speak out against them.

Maybe the academics at the University of Nottingham will be different?

Only time will tell..

(for the University of Nottingham’s code of ethics see here)


Collaboration may encourage corporate corruption

20 Aug 2015 14:56:03.197
While the benefits of cooperation in human society are clear, new research from The University of Nottingham suggests it also has a dark side – one that encourages corrupt behaviour.
“Collaborative settings, not just greed, can provide fertile ground for corruption, as typified by recent scandals in the football and banking worlds. But while much is known about individual immoral behaviour, little is known about the collaborative roots of corruption,” explains lead author Dr Ori Weisel from the School of Economics at the University.
The study, The Collaborative Roots of Corruption, published in PNAS journal, focused on cases where working together meant violating moral rules, by lying, at a possible cost to the larger group, or the organization to which they belong.




 Dabvid Greenway


  1. kiwi

    Excellent piece of work. wow.
    I’d love to hear Nottinghams response to this. perhaps i should send them a copy.
    This a university that is fighting and researching corruption and yet accepts Witty’s money and makes him the Chancellor …..a company that can pay 3 billion dollar fines …and then in the next breath continue their behaviour of bribery by giving money to Universities and continue providing millions in sexual bribes in China and no one cares…billions paid from petty cash and still have some left over to throw around…clearly they weren’t fined enough!! i thought the idea of fines was to punish and correct wrong behavor a little like a speeding ticket not a distraction from putting the foot on the accelerator even more!!
    An ethical loving Nottingham…now that would have to be the biggest oxymoron of the century!
    hey Nottingham…take a look in the mirror.

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