February 15, 2009

British Drug Giant Pledges To Help The Poor

According to the head of British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, the company will begin sharing knowledge of patented treatments, and will cut prices for medication in developing nations.

Andrew Witty, in an interview with the British newspaper Guardian, said he believed pharmaceutical companies had an obligation the help treat the poor, and has challenged his competitors to do the same.

"We work like crazy to come up with the next great medicine, knowing that it's likely to get used an awful lot in developed countries, but we could do something for developing countries," Witty said.

"Are we working as hard on that? I want to be able to say yes we are, and that's what this is all about -- trying to make sure we are even-handed in terms of our efforts to find solutions not just for developed but for developing countries."

According to Witty, GSK, the world's second largest pharmaceutical company, plans to lower prices in the 50 least developed countries to levels that are one-fourth the cost in the United States and Britain.

He also added that the company will reinvest 20 percent of the company's profits into hospitals and clinics in developing countries.  In addition, GSK will share any owned patents with other researchers.

Oxfam, a group of non-governmental organizations working to fight poverty and injustice, have highlighted that drug patents prevent the poor from obtaining treatments and medicine.

GSK plans to cut jobs in an effort to reduce annual costs by $2.4 billion by 2011.


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