Witty pledges allegiance to consumer unit, with provisos

GSK CEO Andrew Witty

CEO Andrew Witty says GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) will not go the way of Pfizer ($PFE) and sell off its consumer business that produces nutraceuticals. He told The Telegraph, however, that he does believe the unit needs to be better integrated with the company's drug business. Pfizer last year sold its nutrition business to Nestlé for $11.85 billion. According to The Telegraph, Witty said the company can use its strong pharmacy distribution operation to build market share in emerging markets for other consumer products like it has its Horlicks product. That drink is sold through pharmacies as a milk substitute, becoming India's fifth-largest consumer brand in the process, the newspaper said. That contrasts with its Lucozade and Ribena, consumer drink brands which are iconic in the U.K., but have been less successful elsewhere. The company is evaluating whether it will sell those off. Consumer products last year produced about 15% of the company's revenue but have been under financial pressure. Witty said the company will keep the division because it addresses one of his concerns. "When I took over, I wanted income streams that were not all affected by the same phenomena in the way that we had seen happen previously because we had too much concentration in one drug in one country--America," he said. Story | More