© Yann Libessart/MSF
31 Mar 17 31 Mar 17

MSF comments on GSK’s new CEO Emma Walmsley's first day

As Andrew Witty steps down and GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK) new CEO, Emma Walmsley, starts her first day, Vickie Hawkins, Executive Director of Médecins Sans Frontières UK (MSF) comments: 

“Over the past year, MSF and GSK reached a ground breaking agreement that ensures humanitarian organisations can afford to buy the life-saving pneumonia vaccine. 

“As Andrew steps down and Emma Walmsley takes over we trust that she will ensure his legacy for global health is actually fulfilled and that she will take further steps to ensure the price of the vaccine is made affordable for developing countries left out of the current agreement.

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"We wish Andrew Witty all the best in his retirement.”

Background

In September 2016, under GSK’s former CEO Andrew Witty, MSF and GlaxoSmithKline reached a ground breaking agreement to ensure that children living in crisis situations could be vaccinated with GSK’S life-saving pneumonia vaccine (Synflorix).

After years of fruitless negotiations, MSF was relieved at the decision of Andrew Witty to sell the pneumonia vaccine at the lowest global price to humanitarian organisations.

Up until that point organisations like MSF had not been able to protect vulnerable children because of the exceptionally high price of the vaccine.

This agreement changed the vaccination landscape as the only other manufacturer of the vaccine, Pfizer, was forced to follow suit in November. 

"[We trust] she will take further steps to ensure the price of the vaccine is made affordable for developing countries left out of the current agreement."
vickie hawkinsexecutive director of msf uk

We are confident that Emma Walmsley will continue this vital work. But there is also a great deal more to be done.

Under Andrew Witty, GSK took a positive step forward for children in emergencies but our experience tells us that lack of access to life-saving vaccines is not only specific to crisis contexts.

Many developing countries want to protect their children but they simply cannot afford this vaccine.

We hope that Emma Walmsley will seize the momentum and demonstrate that every child should get a fair shot at being protected against pneumonia and reduce the price of the vaccine for the many developing countries that still can’t afford it.

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