Witty: Diversifying and derisking GSK

In his first interview as CEO, GlaxoSmithKline's Andrew Witty told the Financial Times he intends to "diversify and derisk" the company. More emphasis on vaccines, non-prescription meds, and consumer health products; less reliance on the pipeline of branded products to come. Rather than divesting GSK's consumer health group--as some had suggested--Witty would expand the company's horizons. "I see absolutely no reason why we would not be in other proximate businesses," he told the FT.

So, Witty has told his team that he wants "ambitious increases" in sales growth for vaccines and consumer health. And he's asking for big targets in emerging markets including Brazil, Russia, India and China--which sounds like a different story, but Witty says it isn't. He believes that brand-building in emerging markets, whether to sell patented meds or generics or consumer health products, ends up benefiting the company across the board.

But don't read this emphasis on diversity to mean that GSK will take its eye off branded drugs, Witty emphasizes. He's still bent on getting as many late-stage meds to market as possible within the next 12 months.

- see the FT interview