3 Fun Facts About GlaxoSmithKline plc

I’m sure dedicated shareholders of GlaxoSmithKline (LSE: GSK) (NYSE: GSK.US) will know all about the pharmaceutical giant’s financials, prospects and valuation.

But large, established companies such as Glaxo often come with many interesting stories from years gone by. I’ve trawled the internet and discovered these fun facts you probably never knew about the FTSE 100 member:

As regular as clockwork…

In 1842, Thomas Beecham launched his Beecham’s Pills business. His first great success was with laxative pills made from an unpromising sounding combination of aloe, ginger and soap. Incredibly, the pills proved to be the most effective remedy on the market by far in the mid 19th century.

By 1859 the success had led to Beecham’s opening its first factory in Lancashire, and by 1939 the company had also acquired the (now iconic) Lucozade energy drink, Macleans toothpaste and Brylcreem hair cream brands.

Glaxo Wellcome merged with SmithKline Beecham during 2000.

It was almost called LactoSmithKline…

Back in 1906, the directors of a New Zealand company selling dried milk as a baby food, realised they needed a catchier name than ‘Defiance’ for their product (smart move!).

Fortunately for us shareholders, however, the directors, having set their hearts on using Lacto as their product name, discovered similar names were already registered. But by adding and changing letters, the name ‘Glaxo’ was born. 

The baby milk product was sold under the slogan “Glaxo builds bonny babies” from 1908. Glaxo later became Glaxo Laboratories and went on to open new units in London in 1935.

The drink of top Olympic athletes… yes, it’s Horlicks!

Not only is GlaxoSmithKline’s iconic malted milk drink more than 138 year old but, unbelievably, it was used extensively during the 1948 London Olympic Games and was made available at every venue to give Olympic athletes an extra energy boost. So much for Lucozade!

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> Andrew owns shares in GlaxoSmithKline.