Guardian – Drug giant GlaxoSmithKline pledges cheap medicine for world’s poor

by Jon Thompson on February 16, 2009

The Guardian has an interesting article about GlaxoSmithKlein’s move to make medicine more available to the world’s poor.  The key components of the plan from the article:

• Cut its prices for all drugs in the 50 least developed countries to no more than 25% of the levels in the UK and US – and less if possible – and make drugs more affordable in middle-­income countries such as Brazil and India.

• Put any chemicals or processes over which it has intellectual property rights that are relevant to finding drugs for neglected diseases into a “patent pool”, so they can be explored by other researchers.

• Reinvest 20% of any profits it makes in the least developed countries in hospitals, clinics and staff.

• Invite scientists from other companies, NGOs or governments to join the hunt for tropical disease treatments at its dedicated institute at Tres Cantos, Spain.

MSF and Oxfam are cautiously optimistic, according to the article, but still lament the exclusion of HIV drugs.  It is interesting to note that the author states that the pharma industry’s image was further tarnished by the publication of John Le Carre’s book The Constant Gardener.  If one book could have such a significant impact imagine what a couple dozen blogs could do.

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