The London-based pharma giant said it will achieve most of the cost reductions through technical improvements in its R&D and manufacturing processes.
According to CEO Andrew Witty, the cost savings plan has been driven by drug pricing pressures across Europe as the recession continues to worsen.
He also noted that job cuts would primarily affect sales and administration staff across Europe, but did not indicate the likely numbers.
Witty emphasised that GSK has six new drugs (including treatments for HIV, type 2 diabetes, melanoma and asthma) under review by regulatory bodies, with late-stage clinical trial data expected for another nine products within two years.
The company aims to launch up to 15 products within three years, he told business analysts. But given the economic uncertainties affecting Europe, 2013 would be a year of “twists and turns” and “not everything is going to go smoothly”.
According to a company spokeswoman, the technical and staffing changes (including redundancy payments) will have a combined one-off cost of £1.5bn, and will primarily be focused on Europe.