GSK to end corporate political contributions

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As part of its transparency push, GlaxoSmithKline is ending corporate political donations, though the company will continue to support a “voluntary and independent Political Action Committee” in the US.

In a statement, GSK CEO Andrew Witty said: “We continue to believe that it is important for GSK to be engaged in policy debates and the political process. However, we need to ensure that there is no implication whatsoever that corporate political contributions provide us with any special privileges. We do not believe they have, and in the few countries we have given contributions we have done so in full compliance of the law. As part of our overall drive to improve transparency in terms of our interactions with governments, political leaders and candidates for public office, we believe that stopping corporate political contributions is the right thing to do. Our focus is, as it always has been, on helping governments by providing them with evidence that our medicines and vaccines provide a strong value proposition.”

In October, GSK said it would disclose payments to US physicians and impose a cap of $150,000 per year, per doctor. In August, the company announced plans to publish quarterly reports on educational and charitable grants to hospitals, teaching institutions, managed care organizations, patient advocacy groups, professional associations and CME companies beginning in February.

The Center for Responsive Politics ranks GSK as the 76th biggest political donor since 1989 in the US and one that has heavily favored Republican candidates, who received 73% of the $9.5 million in political contributions the company, its employees and its PAC have shelled out over the past two decades. For the 2008 election cycle, those contributions totaled $1.1 million, according to the Center, with three-fifths going to Republicans.

A GSK spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal that US corporate political contributions totaled $585,000 for the cycle, while Canadian political donations came to $58,000, and said the company ceased making political contributions in Europe seven years ago. The new policy covers only corporate contributions – individual employees can still make political contributions directly or through the company's PAC.
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