Our history

GlaxoSmithKline started operations on 1 January 2001 following the merger of GlaxoWellcome plc and SmithKline Beecham plc, but our combined histories go back much further than that.

Drawing of Plough Court Pharmacy in 1715
1715

1715

Plough Court Pharmacy established 

Plough Court pharmacy is established, the forerunner of Allen and Hanburys, in London by Silvanus Bevan. The A&H name continues today.

John K. Smith & Co Druggists sign from 1830
1830

1830

John K Smith opens his first drugstore 

1830 John K Smith opens his first drugstore in Philadelphia. John's younger brother, George, joins him in 1841 to form John K Smith & Co.

Beecham's pills adverti from 1842
1842

1842

Beecham’s Pills brand launches 

Thomas Beecham launches the Beecham's Pills business in England. The laxative is to become widely successful.

Mahlon Kline
1865

1865

Mahlon Kline joins Smith & Shoemaker

Joseph Nathan
1873

1873

Joseph Nathan and Co is founded 

1873 Joseph Nathan, who left the UK to seek new business opportunities 20 years before, establishes a general trading company at Wellington in New Zealand – Joseph Nathan and Co – the foundation for the Glaxo company to be formed later.

Burroughs Wellcome and Company sign
1880

1880

Burroughs Wellcome and Company is established 

1880 Burroughs Wellcome & Company is established in London by American pharmacists Henry Wellcome and Silas Burroughs, four years after Joseph Nathan opened a London office.

A Burroughs Wellcome tabloid, a term used to describe compressed tablets.
1884

1884

Burroughs Wellcome registers ‘Tabloid’ trademark 

‘Tabloid’ is registered as a Burroughs Wellcome trademark to describe its compressed tablets. By 1898, the word was being used generally to describe a compressed or concentrated dose of anything. Hence the term ‘tabloid journalism’, which first appears in written records in 1901.

French Richards and Company shop in 1891
1891

1891

Smith, Kline and Company acquires French, Richards and Company 

The original company that John K Smith founded went through numerous mergers and acquisitions. Probably the most important was the company's absorption in of French, Richards and Company, another respected drug wholesaler.

Glaxo advert for dried milk
1906

1906

‘Glaxo’ trademark is registered 

The Nathan directors realised that selling dried milk as an infant food called for a more appealing name than Defiance, the name used for the New Zealand product. They settled on Lacto, but this was not acceptable because similar names were already registered. By adding and changing letters, the name Glaxo evolved and was registered in October 1906.

1963

Betnovate is launched 

Betnovate was the first of Glaxo's range of steroid skin disease treatments. In the mid-1960s, Smith Kline & French also acquired RIT (Recherche et Industrie Therapeutiques), a vaccines business.

1969

Ventolin is launched 

Glaxo launches Ventolin as a treatment for asthma, marketed under the Allen & Hanburys name.

Scientist in a 1970s Beecham Research Laboratory producing antibiotics
1972

1972

Amoxycillin discovered 

Scientists at Beecham Research Laboratories discover amoxycillin and launch Amoxil, which will become a widely-used antibiotic

1981

Zantac and various other products launched 

Augmentin was also launched in 1981 by Beecham to combat a wide range of bacterial infections in children and adults, and the antiviral Zovirax was launched by Wellcome for herpes infections.

1989

SmithKline Beecham plc is formed 

SmithKline Beckman and the Beecham Group merge to form SmithKline Beecham plc.

Business papers and deeds
1995

1995

Glaxo and Wellcome merge to form Glaxo Wellcome

1998

SmithKline Beecham and the WHO join forces against LF 

SmithKline Beecham and the World Health Organization announce a collaboration to eliminate lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis) by the year 2020.

2000

Planned merger of Glaxo Wellcome and SmithKline Beecham is announced

lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis) patient sitting on a wall
2002

2002

The first 100 million albendazole tablets are donated as part of our commitment to fight lymphatic filariasis

Doctor writing
2004

2004

Clinical Trial Register launched 

The Clinical Trial Register (today the Clinical Study Register) is launched, an internet site containing clinical trial data that anyone can access.

ViiV healthcare offices
2009

2009

ViiV Healthcare launched – Stiefel acquired

GSK and Pfizer launch ViiV Healthcare, a company focused on delivering advances in treatment and care for HIV communities. GSK becomes a leader in skincare with the acquisition of Stiefel.

GSK House UK
2011

2011

Human Genome Sciences and GSK receive approval for Benlysta, the first new lupus treatment in 50 years

GSK House with London 2012 logo
2012

2012

We are an official supplier to the Olympic and Paralympic Games, providing laboratory services for official anti-doping measures

Mother and child
2015

2015

In March 2015 we acquired Novartis’s vaccines business (excluding influenza vaccines) and combined our Consumer Healthcare businesses to create a new company.

If you want to know more about our history, send your question to our archivists.