Christmas is coming but there is no let-up at GlaxoSmithKline which is ending all political contributions, buying Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Pakistan operations, extending a pact with Galapagos and reporting positive data for a drug seen as the follow-up to Advair.

First up, GSK has announced a global policy to voluntarily stop all corporate political contributions, having done so in the past “in common with many companies and in full compliance with local laws”. Now chief executive Andrew Witty has decreed that while it is important for GSK “to be engaged in policy debates and the political process…we need to ensure that there is no implication whatsoever that corporate political contributions provide us with any special privileges”.

He added that “we do not believe they have, and in the few countries we have given contributions, we have done so in full compliance of the law”. Mr Witty went on to say that the move is part of “our overall drive to improve transparency in terms of our interactions with governments, political leaders and candidates for public office” and stopping such contributions “is the right thing to do”.

He concluded by saying that “our focus is, as it always has been, on helping governments by providing them with evidence that our medicines and vaccines provide a strong value proposition”.

GSK is also shelling out $36.5 million to acquire B-MS Pakistan in its latest foray into emerging markets. The operation comes with a portfolio of “over 30 well-established pharmaceutical brands”, including antibiotics, vitamins and dermatology products, as well cardiovascular and oncology drugs. B-MS Pakistan had sales in 2007 of approximately $19 million.

The deal comes just a couple of months after GSK spent $210 million to acquire the Egyptian mature products business of B-MS and five months after the UK-based drugs giant signed a deal with South Africa’s Aspen and its Indian joint venture partner Strides Arcolabs to sell branded generics in emerging markets.

The busy day continued with GSK and partner Theravance reporting positive Phase IIb results for the inhaled long-acting beta agonist LABA 444 which is seen as a potential follow-up to the blockbuster asthma drug Advair (salmeterol/fluticasone).

The study involved 605 patients with moderate-to-severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease who were randomised to receive either placebo or one of five doses of LABA444 once daily for four weeks. All doses achieved statistically significant increases in lung function from baseline, versus placebo, after 28 days of treatment, and did not show increased average heart rate, a common side effect of beta agonists.

Finally, GSK has expanded the osteoarthritis alliance with Galapagos to include two additional drug targets. The latter will receive a 2 million euro payment which is in addition to the existing alliance terms, making it now worth up to 188 million euros.