AmeriCares and GSK: helping people when disaster strikes

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Usually Randy from AmeriCares calls me to tell me about a disaster that has struck somewhere in the world, where our donated medicines will be needed.

However, several weeks ago when the phone rang, it was different. Out of the blue Randy informed me that AmeriCares had nominated GSK for a prestigious honor that they award together with the Healthcare Distribution Management Association (HDMA)--and we won for our exceptional dedication to expanding access to healthcare for disadvantaged populations. I was thrilled! And this morning, my colleague Joe Kucharski walked on stage to accept the award from AmeriCares President & CEO Curt Welling on our behalf.

You don't need to look far to know how much AmeriCares is a part of my daily life. The AmeriCares calendar is on the wall at my office.Each month depicts a scene from one of the 120 countries they support with donated medicines and outreach services, along with their mission: "A Passion to Help. The Ability to Deliver."

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I am passionate about our product donation program. GlaxoSmithKline partners with non-profit organizations and relief charities that have experience delivering humanitarian aid, including AmeriCares, and many others. We provide them with supplies that can be used when disasters strike, or when disadvantaged areas need longer-term healthcare programs. The way it works is that our partners select GSK products from an inventory, and we then send those products to their warehouses. Our partners are then able to respond immediately in emergency situations.

These products could be medicines from our pharmaceutical portfolio, or consumer goods, like toothpaste and skin lotion. Each year, GSK provides products valued at approximately $15 million and thanks to our partnership with AmeriCares and their fast response, GSK's donations are often the first to arrive at the scene of many major disasters.

I often get to see the direct impact from the reports we receive about how our donations have been used.They sometimes include photos, like the child depicted here, who was treated for scabies with donated GSK medicine at the Hopital de l'Universite d'Etat d'Haiti in Port-au-Prince.

Since our partnership began in 1989, we've provided AmeriCares with more than $168 million worth of medicines and other products for patients in the countries where they operate.However, our partnership extends beyond providing products.In 2009 we contributed $250,000 for a water treatment facility in a hospital in Indonesia which had been affected by severe flooding following typhoons.

And, through our volunteer program, PULSE, employees have the opportunity to go out on a three or six month assignment with a non-profit group or NGO. Several GSK employees have volunteered for AmeriCares. And they, like me, come back full of admiration.

Marisela, one of the PULSE volunteers, said this:

During my assignment, all the staff at AmeriCares made me feel that every single day had a purpose.All are devoted to supporting communities less fortunate than our own, which inspired me to think about my job in a different way, putting emphasis on people who receive the benefit of my work. After I came back to GSK, this has become a part of my daily activities--there is somebody out there waiting for the outcome of my job. I will be always grateful to AmeriCares for the great opportunity they gave me to collaborate with them and all I learned during my assignment.

I feel the same way about my work with partners like AmeriCares.