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The Warsaw Voice » Other » November 20, 2002
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For the Health of the Nation
November 20, 2002 By Beata Gołębiewska   
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As a leading company in the pharmaceutical sector, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has invested heavily in Poland, and looks to further these investments in the future.

GSK is one of the world's largest pharmaceutical firms. It accounts for about 7 per cent of the global pharmaceutical market and employs over 100,000 workers, including over 16,000 in the Research and Development Department. In 2001, it spent over $3.8 billion on research, contributing to the development of drug creating technologies and the improvement of drug effectiveness. GSK's mission is to "improve the quality of life by enabling people to achieve more, feel better and live longer."

GSK invests substantially in the development of the pharmaceutical industry in Central and Eastern Europe, including Poland.
In Poland, GSK strives to fulfill its mission by offering patients a wide range of products: generic drugs, over-the-counter, and innovative prescription drugs at prices appropriate to the diversified buying power of patients. The average price of one packet of a GSK drug is much lower than the average market price: in 2001, by as much as 32 per cent.

GSK has been present in Poland since 1978. Thanks to organisational reforms and continuing investments in the Polish economy, GSK has gained a position as the largest pharmaceutical firm in Poland. It currently employs over 1,600 workers and has a 7-per cent share in the market in terms of value, and over 10 per cent in terms of the number of sales.

In 1998, GSK made the trade's all-time largest capital investment: the purchase of the Zakłady Farmaceutyczne Polfa from the Treasury for $220 million. At that time, it was the largest foreign investment in Poland. Until now, according to estimates, GSK has invested in Poland nearly $400 million.

"I believe that GSK has proven itself to be a significant partner of the Polish economy," said GSK Director-General dr Mark Loughran, during a meeting at the Central European Forum in Krynica. GSK has gone above and beyond fulfillment of the commitments made at the moment of signing the privatisation contract with the Treasury. The number of new products to be produced in Poznań increased by 25, the firm invested about $35 million more than provided for in the contract, in 1998-2001 production of 77 new drugs started in Poznań, including 36 novelties, protected by patents, and 41 generic and OTC drugs. That is not the end of their investments on the Polish market: GSK plans to spend in our country a further zl.130 million by 2004.

GSK is investing not only in technology but also in human potential. In 2001, the firm spent over zl.3 million on training, providing more than 22,000 training hours for its employees.
GSK has also met its promises in terms of social fund responsibilities. Workers of the old Polfa were guaranteed employment for four years and a one-time payment of an additional bonus exceeding 10 months' earnings. The management agreed to stock optioning for employees.

The social fund money is also used to finance holidays and the activity of trade unions. The firm buys additional, private insurance policies for its employees, and ensures them medical care.
"While carrying out the indispensable rationalisation of employment, we acted in a responsible manner, offering employees the highest level of financial security and help in seeking new employment," said Loughran.

GSK has also succeeded in restoring exports, today exceeding the level prior to the Russian crisis. This season, the firm has a good chance to nearly double the value of last year's exports.
GSK's contribution to both the local and national economy in Poland is very high. With a market share of 7 per cent, the firm pays as much as 13 per cent of all the taxes paid by the pharmaceutical sector. The value of the firm's turnover with domestic suppliers keeps growing and stands at present at the level of 55 per cent of all expenditures. This includes an already impressive number of 3,000 Polish partners and means that in 1997-2001 GSK's turnover with those firms amounted to zl.676 million.

Research and development work forms the basis of GSK's worldwide activity. The firm's involvement in this area is Poland is also exceptionally active.

GSK modernised most of the departments at the factory in Poznań, importing state-of-the-art technology into the city. A good example is the non-CFC aerosol production line, thanks to which GSK Polska became Central and Eastern Europe's sole producer of CFC-free drugs in inhalers packaged under pressure.

GSK allocated over zl.170 million for improving the system of environmental protection, infrastructure, computer systems, the company power station as well as to enhance the quality assurance system and modernise the research-and-development base so that it meets top world standards.

New production departments have also been built from scratch. Due to the establishment of the soft capsule department, GSK Polska became the European leader in the production of this form of medicine.
GSK in Poznań also runs its own research and development base, employing 80 workers who conduct research and work to develop new drugs and their generic forms.

Plans include the launch of 10 new products entirely created in the Poznań laboratory; eight products are at the experimental stage, with 13 more at the definition stage.

GSK laboratories and their scientific personnel meet the highest global standards. Thanks to this, the Poznań firm won an international contract for the development of a new antimalarial drug. The project is sponsored by the Ministry of Health of Great Britain, WHO and GSK. The domestic budget for research and development amounts to zl.20 million. The firm also invests in clinical research and the alignment of the registration documentation of old Poznań products with the requirements of the European Union. With the use of large outlays, it will be possible to complete its dossier by 2004, long ahead of the deadline accepted by the EU.

Loughran said that GSK has a long-term vision of investing on the Polish market, for the Polish economy, but most importantly for

"I am convinced that we have demonstrated that we treat our mission of giving relief to patients extremely seriously," he said. "After all, it's all about them. For us, they are the most important. We are eager to cooperate with state institutions and other organisations to jointly solve the problem of access to the latest drugs."

GSK is a global firm, but with a solid foundation on the domestic market; a strong Polish firm, and at the same time part of a world corporation, a firm able to face competition on international markets and bring state-of-the-art technology and valuable scientific knowledge to Poland.
Beata Gołębiewska
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