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Pharmaceuticals / GMPs / Research and Development / Commercial Operations

GSK Initiatives Will Expand Access to Medicines in Sub-Saharan Africa

April 1, 2014

GlaxoSmithKline plans to invest about $216 million in sub-Saharan Africa to help the region develop and produce needed medicines.

The initiative, outlined Monday by GSK CEO Andrew Witty, is expected to result in at least 500 jobs, both manufacturing and sales, over the next five years, spokeswoman Mary Rhyne told Drug Daily Bulletin.

Among GSK’s goals is to increase understanding of the unique characteristics of noncommunicable diseases, such as treatment-resistant hypertension and aggressive forms of breast cancer, which are common in Africa. To that end, the company is injecting $42 million into its R&D Open Lab for noncommunicable diseases in Africa. Scientists at GSK’s UK Stevenage, UK, research facility will partner, both physically and virtually, with their African counterparts to advance epidemiological, genetic and interventional research.

An additional $166 million will go toward expanding GSK’s manufacturing capabilities in Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya, and establishing five new GMP-compliant plants. Rwanda, Ghana and Ethiopia are among potential sites for the new facilities, which will initially focus on secondary manufacture of antibiotics, respiratory drugs and HIV medicines, according to the drugmaker.

GSK hopes eventually to transfer its manufacturing knowledge and technology to local producers, creating a network of local industry. Meanwhile, the company is beefing up its African supply chain with local supply hubs to combat drug shortages and reduce the continent’s dependence on imported medicines.

Plans to push registration of GSK drugs in Africa and to bolster community health worker training also are in the works, the company said. — Lena Freund

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