How we discover new vaccines
Find out how GSK protects against disease.
Our Vaccines business is one of the largest in the world, developing, producing and distributing over 1.9 million vaccines every day to people across more than 150 countries.
The vaccines in our portfolio have been helping to protect people from serious disease for well over 100 years, with our Marietta (US) site dedicated to smallpox vaccine production since 1882. Today, our vaccines continue to tackle some of the world’s most devastating diseases, including pneumococcal disease, meningitis, hepatitis, rotavirus, whooping cough and influenza. Our pipeline of potential new vaccines covers many of the diseases still having a serious impact around the world, including malaria, HIV, TB and Ebola.
Our acquisition of Novartis' Vaccines business (excluding influenza vaccines) in early 2015 significantly expanded the number of vaccines we produce (now around 39), as well as the number of new vaccines we have in development (15), giving us the broadest portfolio of any vaccines company in the world.
In 2015, the business contributed £3.7 billion (15%) to the overall turnover of the Group.
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Vaccination is recognised worldwide as one of the best investments that any government or healthcare organisation can make. In 2012, the WHO and its 194 member’s states published an action plan on vaccination to extend access to immunization to everyone in the world, promote innovation in the vaccines industry and prevent millions of deaths.
This plan involves more equitable access to existing vaccines for people in all communities, the introduction of new and improved vaccines and accelerated research and development for the next generation of vaccines and technologies. Overall, this should translate into a growing global demand for vaccines over the next 10-15 years.
For example, more than 25 million children are born every year in India alone and it’s estimated that by 2020 there will be more than a billion people in the world aged over 60. To meet this demand, it’s crucial that we have a long-term sustainable business.
We believe that the protection from life-threatening diseases provides opportunities for greater health not just for individuals, but also for the communities in which they live.
Around 40% of the world’s children currently receive at least one GSK vaccine to help protect them against potentially life-threatening infections. Yet, 22 million children in low-income and least-developed nations still don’t have access to any vaccines.
In order to reach those people who could benefit from vaccination, we need to make sure we have a sustainable business approach in the way we develop, manufacture and distribute our vaccines.
Since the early 1990s, we’ve worked hard to support governments in making a long-term investment in immunisation. Our approach, known as ‘tiered pricing’, allows more flexibility in that it reflects a country’s wealth and ability to pay. We aim to support those countries that commit to vaccination for the long-term and enable them to maintain and expand upon their commitment to immunisation as their economies grow.
For the least developed countries, we work closely with organisations such as Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and UNICEF. These organisations are able to purchase large volumes of vaccines for the world’s poorest children at our lowest prices. Just over 80% of our vaccines go to developing countries (including the least developed, low- and middle-income countries).
In 2015, we distributed more than 690 million doses of vaccine around the world. These are made in one of our 17 manufacturing sites located around the world. For some of our vaccines, this production process can take up to two years.
On average, each batch of vaccine will have undergone more than 100 quality checks before it is sent out, to ensure the vaccines meet world-class standards. Each of our vaccines is produced to the same quality standard, regardless of where in the world the vaccine will be used.
We are continuously investing in our manufacturing facilities, improving our processes and building partnerships to ensure we meet the global growing needs for high quality vaccines.
Innovation is the beating heart of our business. Without it, there will be no new vaccines for the many diseases that still threaten individuals, families and communities around the world.
Our R&D organisation brings together expertise in virology, bacterial infection and different adjuvant platforms. We now have three global R&D hubs: Rockville, USA (new in 2015); Rixensart, Belgium and Siena, Italy, which are focused on discovering and developing novel vaccines across a range of pressing public health threats. Our efforts are concentrated on those possible vaccines which may offer significant improvements over existing options or target diseases for which no vaccines yet exist.
Our approach is to make the most of our own expertise and experience, while at the same time forming complementary partnerships and alliances with others who bring different kinds of expertise. Our vision for the world, where everyone has access to the vaccines they need, depends on a steady supply of great ideas and brilliant science. We have much to offer and through collaboration we can achieve so much more.
For example, more than 90% of the vaccines in our pipeline are being developed in partnership with others. We have a long track record of collaborating with governments, healthcare providers, regulators, academic institutions, non-governmental organisations, vaccine producers and other key partners to tackle public health challenges around the world.