Pharmaceutical and Tobacco TNCs – GlaxoSmithKline and British American Tobacco

Pharmaceutical company – GlaxoSmithKline

They’re based in London for a number of reasons including the higher skilled workforce, better infrastructure, easier access to capital and better access to technology. GSK sell both branded (in logo packaging and more expensive) and unbranded (real names rather than brand name and cheaper) drugs. GSK sell essential drugs (that provide safe and effective treatment for both communicable and non communicable diseases at a price communities can afford, primarily in LEDCs).  It is expensive to carry out research and development due to cost of training and employing employees, equipping laboratories, only a small proportion of developed drugs reach the market and testing the drugs before and during use. It is trialling a vaccine for malaria which in the future may provide a serious benefit to many, especially in LEDCs.  This may however be prohibitively expensive.  It’s committed to lowering the price of drugs in 50 of the world’s poorest countries to levels which locals can afford. GSK globally provide disaster relief medicines, £250,000 worth after the earthquake in Haiti to a sanitation project to prevent spread of water-borne diseases. In the UK they support a number of educational projects to help get youngsters interested in careers in Science, as well as running a independent living project for those with disabilities.

Tobacco Company – British American Tobacco

BAT are one of the biggest tobacco suppliers in the world and focus supplying African, Indian and Indonesian markets.  It uses a number of controversial techniques to increase uptake of smoking including single stick cigarette sales (allowing those on low incomes to become addicted).  Advantages include supporting a large workforce in Malawi (an LEDC) that has 2/3rds of national income from tobacco, as well as income 75% of the Malawi workforce work in the tobacco industry (including women which is unusual in many LEDCs)  and they often donate to charitable causes including providing access to clean water. Disadvantages include child labour at many tobacco farms (which is illegal in Malawi), many workers on farms dying of tobacco poisoning, should the tobacco industry leave Malawi they would lose main source of income, farmers may choose to grow tobacco instead of food as more profitable (leading to famine) and it acts as propaganda and increases likelihood of people smoking in the country.  Smoking also has health implications as it is the second most major cause of death causing 90% of lung cancer deaths and a third of all cancer deaths overall. The impact of smoking is trying to be reduced in the UK through: advertisements on risks of smoking (Smoke Free), ban on cigarette sales to under 18s, all cigarettes must be kept out of view behind the counter, public smoking is banned and the NHS offers free stop smoking clinics.