GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has a well-established programme of donating medicines for community healthcare and disaster relief. The Company works with charity partners that operate across the globe, who provide specialist expertise delivering appropriate medicines when disaster occurs. GSK’s planned donations enable these non-profit organisations to hold a range of medicines in their warehouses so they can establish strategic plans and respond promptly to emergency situations.

When the Tsunami happened in December 2004 GSK’s response was led by a standing emergency team, led by a senior manager from the corporate executive team, who kept the Chief Executive fully briefed and included representatives from across the company. The response was also influenced by advice from the area director.

In the first few days more than two million doses of antibiotics were shipped to all the affected areas. GSK believes that companies should focus on what they do best and what is most practical for them. The Company also believes that donations should only be made when people with local expertise have confirmed that they will be useful. The supply of medicine, especially antibiotics, is one of the most critical components in disaster response because they can directly help save lives and support the recovery effort.

Employees were keen to help and they were fully briefed about the GSK’s actions via the intranet and a dedicated web-page was created. This system worked well and more than 80,000 hits were recorded on the site. Not only did this help to reassure employees and make them aware of GSK’s significant contribution, it also meant that the Community Partnerships team was able to focus on managing the ongoing response.

GSK is a member of the Partnership for Quality Medical Donations (PQMD) an alliance of donating pharmaceutical companies and humanitarian agencies who work together to encourage the timely delivery of medicines to people in need and ensure best practice