How Fortune’s ‘Change the World’ Companies Profit From Doing Good
They’ve made it their business to attack society’s toughest problems.
Few companies today can claim to be entering their fourth century in business. GlaxoSmithKline GSK -1.15% , the $37-billion-in-revenue pharmaceutical giant, is one of them, tracing its roots—by way of various corporate iterations, mergers, and rechristenings—to a London apothecary called Plough Court Pharmacy, established in 1715. Along the way, progenitor pieces of GSK sold dried milk for infants (early 1900s), manufactured penicillin (World War II), and developed AZT, the first medicine approved for AIDS, in the early years of a global pandemic that would claim millions of lives.
Now, at the lithesome age of 300, the company is in the midst of yet another reinvention, growing a pharmaceutical business whose aim is to serve not just patients in the wealthier nations of the West but also consumers in less developed countries—or what CEO Andrew Witty calls “the other 6 billion” people in the world.
The company spent some three decades developing a vaccine for malaria, which has devastated huge swaths of sub-Saharan Africa. (Pilot vaccination programs in the hardest-hit areas may begin as early as 2018.) GSK has partnered with the government of Botswana on an ambitious HIV treatment program, and it’s collaborating with the National Institutes of Health on a vaccine for the Zika virus.
- Impact Assessment