Humanitarian Product Donations

Partnership Objectives

Bring high-quality medicines to people who have unmet healthcare needs, oftentimes in challenging situations such as a major natural disaster, conflict or in remote areas.

GSK supported five emergency responses with medicines for Syria, Mauritania, South Sudan, Pakistan and the Philippines in 2013. GSK supported five emergency responses with medicines for Syria, Mauritania, South Sudan, Pakistan and the Philippines in 2013. Copyright GSK

What are the health needs and challenges?

In times of disasters and emergencies there is an imperative to respond quickly to ensure lives are saved and protected from disease outbreaks that often follow.

GSK partners with humanitarian aid partners, experienced in the distribution of medicines, who follow WHO guidelines for medicines donations, ensuring that medicine donations are appropriate to the needs and of maximum benefit to the recipients.

GSK is one of the pharmaceutical industry’s major donors of medical products supporting disaster relief efforts and long-term healthcare programs.

The humanitarian product donation program is a fundamental part of GSK’s community investment activities to help save lives and improve the quality of life of people living in vulnerable situations, whether caused by a sudden unexpected emergency such as a disaster, or as a result of a chronic lack of available medicines for which longer-term, ongoing humanitarian aid is needed and where GSK’s medicines can really make a significant difference.

Humanitarian product donations underpin GSK’s global mission to improve the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer.

Description of partnership activities and how they address needs and challenges

GSK’s approach to medicine donations is unique.  The Company works with carefully selected charity partners – AmeriCares, Project HOPE, Direct Relief, IMA (Interchurch Medical Assistance) and MAP International - who are experts in the distribution of medicines.  They are able to select from GSK inventory which means that they have access to long dated, high quality products which meet the needs of communities.  Their experience of community healthcare ensures that the right medicines reach people in need at the right time and because the products are pre-positioned in the partners’ warehouses, held in storage, they are able to respond swiftly, often within days of  a disaster occurring.

The partners also draw upon their stock of medicines in their warehouses to support longer-term healthcare programs in areas where medicines are either unavailable or there are gaps in healthcare provision.

GSK’s partners also support programs targeting specific therapy areas, such as Direct Relief, providing hospitals in East Africa with donations of GSK’s anti-emetic medicines, which support patients undergoing cancer treatment which would otherwise be unavailable.

Through MAP International and their Medical Mission program, GSK’s medicines reach a high number of small, remote communities. Each Medical Mission pack, which physicians in the US can apply for to take with them on their overseas medical mission trips, contains antibiotics and other essential medicines donated by GSK.  

Since 2012 GSK has been working with partners, including Save the Children, Red Cross and Americares, Direct Relief and UNHCR, to provide cash and product donations, supporting displaced children and families in affected countries.

Working across three country phases: `countries of origin', `countries of transition' and `countries of destination', GSK is taking a strategic, longer term approach to address the needs of refugee communities.

To date GSK has contributed over US$ 5m, supporting the following countries: Croatia, Gaza, Greece, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Malta, Spain, Syria, Serbia, Somalia

Local businesses also supported with local donations of hygiene and essential items in Austria and Germany.

Funding is being used to provide

  • Healthcare in refugee communities, including emergency, mobile units and primary health. This also includes delivering immunisation programmes in humanitarian situations where governments are unable to respond.
  • Child protection, especially for unaccompanied children who are the most vulnerable
  • Strengthen capacity for response at the country level to prioritise and implement programmes with key partners
  • Cash and Product Donations

In addition, in times of emergencies, GSK also make grants (cash donations) in response to funding appeals received from major aid agencies such as the Red Cross/Red Crescent Societies or Save the Children.  The funds can be quickly put to use in disaster situations to mobilise essential emergency supplies in the immediate short-term, supporting local government or other emergency response activities.

GSK’s contribution to humanitarian relief goes beyond these medicine and cash donations to our partners.  GSK volunteers regularly play their part in assisting partners, offering their expertise on 3-6 month secondment ‘PULSE’ placements -  helping to improve the delivery of healthcare and access to medicines in the countries where the partners operate.   And, in times of disasters, increasing numbers of GSK employees offer their medical expertise to assist in the delivery of local medicine donations and gifts-in-kind, as well as to raise funds which help to speed up and augment local recovery efforts.

Lessons learned                           

Trusted partnerships are key to the humanitarian product donation program’s success.  GSK has been working with the five partners over  a long period of time, in the case of Project HOPE, for example, stretching back over 50 years.

Robust governance structures are needed to ensure medicine donations reach the right people at the right time and provide maximum benefit. GSK’s program is managed centrally by the Global Health programs Community Partnerships function that facilitates the relationship between GSK and the carefully selected charity partners. These undergo rigorous due diligence and annual legal agreements are put in place to manage GSK’s product donations.

Tracking donations to their intended destination is a key part of the contract with non-profit partners. GSK country managers and the Community Partnerships team have participated in field visits, talking to doctors and patients to be assured that GSK products are being dispensed appropriately and improving people’s health.

GSK’s has also endorsed an internal global Humanitarian Product Donation policy to reinforce the company’s commitment to a strategic and integrated approach of supplying products for humanitarian needs. This also clarifies that GSK does not donate medicines for chronic diseases, where a continuous supply of product is required – instead a sustainable policy of preferential pricing has been implemented for the least developed countries.

A key principle of the donations policy is that country managers approve donations before they are delivered to their markets.  This ensures that medicines are appropriate to the needs of the country and avoids potential conflict with commercial business.  Further, GSK managers play an active role in creating strong partnerships at a local level with charities and healthcare workers who distribute and dispense GSK medicines.

GSK’s senior managers recognise that the pharmaceutical industry has a unique and clear purpose in responding to humanitarian needs.  When major disasters occur, such as those in the Philippines, the Community Partnerships team in partnership with the heads of the affected country/region, helps to convene a ‘crisis committee’ that brings together relevant functions such as senior managers of manufacturing, commercial, human resources and corporate communications to ensure a rapid and coordinated response.  GSK can make a tangible difference and stakeholders such as employees and governments recognise this.

GSK and its partners are members of the Partnership for Quality Medical Donations (PQMD), an alliance of pharmaceutical companies and non-government organisations who work together to promote best practice in medicine donations and community healthcare. Close coordination of the members, especially during disasters, ensures high visibility of each other’s work and mitigates duplication of effort.

Summary of impact and forward looking information

In 2016 GSK provided medicines and vaccines valued at £2.5m (Cost of Goods) for humanitarian purposes to 87 of the world’s poorest countries. It is an area where GSK can make a significant impact because they manufacture products that save lives threatened by infections or injuries.

GSK employees are enormously proud of what the company does for humanitarian relief.

GSK country managers and the Community Partnerships team have participated in field visits, talking to partners, doctors and patients to be assured that GSK products are being dispensed appropriately and improving people’s health.  They witness first-hand the poor conditions of geographically remote health centres, where there is often no running water and limited medical equipment.  They recognise that it is a ‘win-win’ if medicines can be donated for the most impoverished people who would not otherwise be treated. They appreciate that GSK can intervene in a practical way with additional supplies of essential medicines that save people’s lives and that this can be reflected in the recognition they receive from governments, physicians and healthcare providers.  

Partnership information

Company(ies) GlaxoSmithKline

Partner(s) AmeriCares, Interchurch Medical Assistance (IMA), MAP International, Project HOPE

Type of Partner(s) NGOs

Therapeutic Focus Infectious Diseases, Neglected Tropical Diseases, Women and Children's Health, Other, Vaccine-Preventable Diseases

Disease(s) Children's Health, General Health, Hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, Influenza, Lymphatic Filariasis, Malaria, Measles, Meningitis C, Mumps, Onchocerciasis (River Blindness), Paratyphoid fever, Pneumonia, Rotavirus, Rubella, Schistosomiasis, Shigella, Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis, Tuberculosis, Women's Health

Program Type(s) Availability of Treatment - Emergency Aid, Availability of Treatment - Financial Support, Availability of Treatment - Patient Safety & Medicines Quality, Availability of Treatment - Product Donations, Health System Infrastructure - Outreach & Medical Services, Prevention Programs - Awareness & Outreach, Prevention Programs - Mass Drug Administrations (MDA), Prevention Programs - Vaccines

Targeted Population(s) Children, Elderly, Marginalised / Indigenous People, Men, Mothers, People with low income, Women, Youth

Region(s) East Asia & Pacific, Europe & Central Asia, Latin America & Caribbean, Middle East & North Africa, South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa

Number of Countries 86

Country(ies) Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Bangladesh, Benin, Bhutan, Botswana, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, India, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, The Gambia, Togo, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, West Bank and Gaza, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Start Date 1960

More information GSK Health for All

Anticipated completion date Ongoing

« We visited the remote Guyana Berbice River area in South America. I was able to treat a man with resistant AIDS-related pneumonia with Augmentin...Some people may just see a white tablet – I held in my hand something that can save a life. »

Testimony of a doctor returning from a medical mission using Medical Mission pack from MAP International