GSK CEO Andrew Witty has been knighted in the Queen's New Year Honours list in recognition of his services to the UK economy and pharmaceutical industry.
Sir Andrew – now a Knight Bachelor of the Order of the British Empire – is a supporter of a UK Government’s ‘patent box’ that will cut corporation tax rates on profits generated by products developed and patented in the country from 2013.
In 2009 Witty said: “The patent box is exactly the sort of active, long-term and creative support that we need from the Government to ensure that the UK remains an attractive place for highly skilled sectors such as pharmaceuticals.
“For GSK, assuming the new regime will apply to patents currently under development it will have the immediate impact of making the UK a priority area for future investments, particularly in manufacturing,” he added.
Witty’s Kinghthood comes six months after he reiterated GSK’s plans to increase its investment in R&D and manufacturing in the UK which, he predicted in an interview with the Guardian newspaper , will “lead to us paying a greater tax yield in the UK."
The specific amount and nature of GSK’s investment in the UK is as yet unclear. However, in 2010 the firm said it will stump up around £500m ($781m) for a new biopharmaceuticals R&D centre in the country and called in Lonza to help with the design .
GSK's enthusiasm for UK manufacturing and R&D investment is in stark contrast with some of its Big Phama rivals, most notably Pfizer which pulled the plug on its R&D centre in Kent last year .
However, it is in keeping with fellow UK-based drugmaker AstraZeneca, which recently announced plans for a $200m (€312m) plant in China rather than the UK.
AstraZeneca CEO David Brennan is also a supporter of the UK Patent Box but as a US citizen is not eligible for any British empire prizes.