GSK's ex-CEO made honorary citizen for role in biomed push

Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline's former chief executive, Sir Andrew Witty, was conferred the Honorary Citizen Award by President Halimah Yacob at the Istana yesterday.
Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline's former chief executive, Sir Andrew Witty, was conferred the Honorary Citizen Award by President Halimah Yacob at the Istana yesterday.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

A British business executive was made an honorary citizen of Singapore yesterday for his contributions to Singapore's economic development, and the growth of the biomedical sciences industry.

Sir Andrew Witty, 53, former chief executive of pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), was conferred the award by President Halimah Yacob at an Istana ceremony.

The Honorary Citizen Award is the highest form of recognition for a non-Singaporean.

Introduced in 2003, it is given to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to Singapore's growth and development.

Sir Andrew, the 18th person to receive the award, said: "Living and working in and with Singapore has been one of my most rewarding experiences, and I have been delighted to see the biomedical sector expand so much over the last 20 years."

He lived in Singapore from 1999 to 2003, while serving as the British company's senior vice-president for Asia-Pacific.

One of his contributions is establishing a joint 10-year road map with the Economic Development Board (EDB), when he was appointed GSK's chief executive in 2009.

As part of the road map, Sir Andrew championed the establishment of a $50 million GSK-EDB endowment fund, among other investments, to support innovation and research in the areas of green and sustainable manufacturing, and healthcare policy.

Singapore became the choice location for incubating and industrialising GSK's new manufacturing technologies to transform how medicines are produced.

This helped Singapore develop regional thought leadership in regulatory policies for drug approvals.

Said EDB chairman Beh Swan Gin: "Singapore's biomedical sciences industry cluster and GSK in Singapore have grown hand in hand through the decades.

"Sir Andrew was a key driving force for this growth throughout his time in GSK, and the strong partnership between Singapore and GSK continues to this day."

GSK's cumulative investments in Singapore exceed $2.5 billion. It has more than 1,700 employees, making it the largest employer in Singapore's pharmaceutical industry.

Sir Andrew has also been a member of EDB's International Advisory Council since 2011, contributing to discussions that help shape Singapore's future economic strategies.

He retired as GSK's CEO last year. On July 1, he will be chief executive of Optum, the healthcare delivery business of American company United Healthcare Group.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 27, 2018, with the headline 'GSK's ex-CEO made honorary citizen for role in biomed push'. Print Edition | Subscribe