GSK, Save The Children, Yemen, And How Glaxo Behaves In Developing Countries…

“…..Teaming up with Save the Children to market a product could boost your sales, profile and customer base’ – Save the Children’s assurance to potential corporate partners….”

GSK yemen

“….In Yemen and across the developing world, GSK is committed to finding new and innovative ways to ensure access to medicines,” said Mr Omar Mulhi, Country Manager, GSK Yemen. “We are collaborating with government, NGOs and other private-sector companies to improve people’s health and well-being no matter where they live, while continuing to expand our business and invest in research.”

Over the past five years, GSK has made fundamental changes to its business model including re-investing 20 per cent of all profits in the least developed countries to help communities strengthen their local health infrastructure.

For example, in cooperation with Save the Children, GSK is funding the building of a Health and Nutrition Workforce for vulnerable communities in Yemen. The programme will benefit 45,000 children under the age of five; 30,000 children aged six and over; and 30,000 women of child bearing age….”

For full article see here

Over the last few months I have been in correspondence with a whistle-blower from Yemen who claims that GSK  have been involved in various unethical shenanigans there (see here). I have in my possession some pretty damning information however I cannot publish yet, but I will hopefully be able to- by the end of the month (so stay tuned).

Allegations of corruption by GSK are nothing new- back in 2012 they paid the biggest healthcare settlement fine in US history (a staggering 3 Billion dollars) and as recently as 2014 they paid half a million dollars to settle a big corruption case in China.

So what’s the big deal if GSK are behaving badly, or unethically, in Yemen -or other countries?

Well, in a developing country like Yemen, perhaps it’s fair to say that GSK can get away with a little more than they would in say- the US or UK?

Personally, I think that the GSK culture is riddled with corruption, and despite claims by GSK Andrew Witty that this kind of behavior is from another ‘era’ and not current GSK policy, the corruption in GSK doesn’t seem to be stamped out, and it’s arguable that it is more widespread globally..

Why is this?

GSK have built their business model on corruption, it’s how they have generated their vast profits. Without lying and deceiving they wouldn’t have had a blockbuster like Seroxat/Paxil for example. If they had told the truth about that drug- they wouldn’t have made billions on it. You could say the same for Avandia- another controversial GSK drug- or even how they marketed Advair (their asthma drug at the center of the GSK department of Justice investigation- see Greg Thorpe’s complaint here).

Their profits generate profits.

They have infiltrated, and leveraged influence- on- governments, academia, universities, NGO’s, healthcare policy, regulation etc.

Even the legal bribery that goes on is dodgy. When GSK sponsors a charity, or a prize, or an academic department or a university, this causes undue influence. It curry’s favor…

Corruption and bribery (both legal and illegal) is rampant wherever GSK goes because that’s a successful business model that evidently works for them.

But perhaps the most disturbing aspect of GSK’s ‘influence’ is upon charities such as ‘Save The Children’

If the Yemen whistle-blowers allegations are true then it seems that Save the Children should be concerned also about off label prescribing of GSK owned drugs in Yemen to- (you guessed it)- children..

However,  the ‘Save The Children’ organization are already aware of Seroxat study 329 and the off label prescribing of Seroxat/Paxil to children and they don’t seem that bothered about it so maybe they won’t see much of a problem with any future allegations either?…

Only time will tell..

“…….No mention on Save the Children’s website, however, of one of GSK’s less child-friendly products – the antidepressant Paxil (Seroxat/paroxetine). In 2012 the company was fined $3 billion by the US government after pleading guilty to criminal charges, including bribing doctors and encouraging the prescription of Paxil to children, even though the drug was unsuitable and unapproved for this use.2

‘We would never refrain from speaking out on an issue because we had a partnership with a particular company. That would clearly compromise our values,’ claims Save the Children.

When contacted for a response, it admitted it was ‘aware of reports on the historic issues relating to Paxil… but our belief is that the risks are outweighed by the benefits of the partnership.’3….”

..Dear Bob,

Many thanks for getting in touch with Save the Children about our partnership with GlaxoSmithKline. I believe you have contacted us before on this, and we thank you for your interest.

Save the Children is aware of the reports on the historical issue of Paxil. As an organisation we take our reputation and our role to protect children very seriously and assess all our partnerships within this context.  We acknowledge there are risks associated in working with a pharmaceutical company such as GSK, but our belief is that these risks are outweighed by the benefits of the partnership in helping us achieve our ambitions for children.

As part of our partnership we continue to have open dialogue with GSK and monitor their business practices, in order that we respond appropriately should future issues arise.

Private sector partnerships are instrumental in enabling Save the Children to realise our vision and our partnership with GSK will have a lasting impact on global mortality rates. The focus of the partnership is to help to save a million children’s lives in the developing world and it combines GSK’s relevant skills, expertise and resources across its business with the funding of healthcare programmes for the poorest children in developing worlds.

For further information on our partnership, please visit:

Kind regards…”

(Bob Fiddaman Blog 2015)


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