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GSK awards CEO Walmsley with 2018 pay rise to £5.9M after R&D refocus

GlaxoSmithKline plc CEO Emma Walmsley was paid £5.9 million in 2018, while research and development head Hal Barron received slightly less at $6.6 million, or roughly £5.0 million, after a year in which the U.K.'s largest drugmaker repositioned its research to focus on the science of the immune system and oncology, and shed 80 experimental programs including a number in respiratory.

In 2018, Walmsley announced a transformation of the way GSK intends to carry out research under ex-Roche Holding AG veteran Hal Barron, signing a four-year collaboration and $300 million of investment with 23andMe, the Mountain View, Calif.-based company, in order to use human genetics as the basis of the discovery of new medicines.

The CEO, who took the helm at the U.K.'s largest drugmaker on March 31, 2017, announced the creation of the world's largest consumer health group by joining forces with Pfizer Inc.'s consumer business, in a venture which she plans to list in three years on the London Stock Exchange. And the acquisition of Tesaro Inc. confirmed Walmsley's shift in focus back to oncology, further built upon by a recent alliance struck with Merck Kgaa.

Walmsley, who received about £4.9 million total remuneration in 2017, has had notable success in 2018 with the Shingrix vaccine, for which demand has outstripped supply. She is betting that GSK can withstand the loss of patent exclusivity on its former best-selling asthma medicine, Advair, with its strengthened pipeline of experimental medicines.

Walmsley has repositioned the company to once again focus on oncology — an area that was dropped under an asset swap agreed by her predecessor, Andrew Witty, with Novartis AG in 2015. Former CEO Witty's total 2016 remuneration came to £6.8 million.