July 2015: Aidan Lynch, vice president and general manager, GSK Pharmaceuticals

Business Person of the Month | Fri 14 Aug | Author – Business & Finance BPOTM July 2015 Aidan Lynch

A jobs boost at their world-class Sligo facility makes this a busy summer for GSK and Aidan Lynch.

This summer heralded good news for Sligo, and for GSK: the UK pharmaceutical giant has announced 50 jobs at its site, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, taking the total employed at GSK Sligo to 250.

The new jobs are in areas such as engineering, quality, technical, logistics, finance and project management, as the site transitions to what GSK describes as a “single state-of-the-art manufacturing operating model”, manufacturing Stiefel skincare products serving over 70 markets.

“If I had one phrase to sum up GSK in July, it would be performance with purpose,” commented Aidan Lynch, VP and GM of GSK Pharmaceuticals in Ireland.

GSK recently announced its Q2 earnings for 2015. These were GSK’s first full quarter results since the closure of its innovative transaction with Novartis. The results were encouraging with group sales up 7%, which was an early positive signal of the benefits the transaction is delivering for GSK.

It also showed strong momentum in new products, which is key to GSK’s performance. Given the patent model of the pharmaceutical sector, growth is reliant on a continual stream of innovative new medicines and vaccines which GSK continues to deliver. GSK has had more new medicines approved globally than any other healthcare company in the past five years and currently has 40 new medicines and vaccines in advanced clinical development.

Its Q2 results for Europe, which contains the figures for GSK’s pharma business in Ireland, were strong, coming in £100m above plan. Europe continues to be a strong contributor to the Group’s overall sales, representing 27% of GSK’s overall business.

According to Lynch, GSK in Ireland is succeeding. Speaking at the recent Business & Finance Life Sciences event, he said, “The pace of change has been phenomenal, and we have all had to react, respond, and adapt, in order to survive… Over the last few years, we have all had to be realists in Ireland and adjust our sails accordingly. Certainly, GSK has been no different, but I’m proud to say that not only are we surviving, we are succeeding.”

Key to continued success and a big development in 2015 for GSK and the wider pharma industry will be around the new supply agreement which both members of the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association (IPHA) and the Dept of Health have committed to delivering. Commenting on the agreement Lynch said, “A new agreement is in the best interest of most importantly patients but also the economy. We would certainly hope to enter formal negotiations as soon as possible. Key to the new agreement will be how we can ensure early access for patients to innovative new medicines as well as finding predictable, stable pathways for new medicines approvals. As Ireland is resuming strong growth after the economic crisis, now is the time to invest in health.”

As for “purpose” this relates to what has internally been the biggest change at GSK in July and indeed this year. GSK has taken a real leadership position in the industry around openness and transparency reporting all clinical research results into its medicines and vaccines, whether the outcomes are positive or negative, and was also the first pharmaceutical company to sign up to the AllTrials campaign for research transparency.

Its latest move, which came into effect on July 1st, was around its interactions with healthcare professionals. For years, the pharma industry has been scrutinised and often criticised for the level of influence it is perceived as having over HCPs and the lack of transparency around these relationships. To remove this once and for all, GSK no longer makes any payments to any healthcare professionals. Furthermore, it also no longer uses sales targets to incentivise its medical representatives – two quite bold and innovative moves amongst its peers.

Elsewhere around GSK Ireland, business is strong. GSK’s Sligo site recently announced up to 50 new jobs this year while its Dungarvan facility continues to go from strength to strength producing over 7.5bn Panadol tablets every year. Its Cork site is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2015, while its consumer healthcare business has almost doubled in size since its recent joint venture with Novartis Consumer healthcare brands.

CV highlights

  • Prior to joining GSK, Aidan worked in the music and food industries in Ireland having returned from Australia where he lived for 14 years.
  • Prior to being appointed General Manager in October 2012, Aidan held a number of financial and commercial roles during his twelve years in GSK.
  • In 2014, he was appointed President of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce and was re-elected to the Board of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce.
  • He is also a Board member of the children’s charity Barretstown, a Serious Fun Camp and also sits on the board of the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association (IPHA).
  • Originally from Offaly, Aidan now lives in Blessington, has three grown up sons and is a keen sailor.


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