Glaxo changes policy towards poor

Many people in the developing world are suspicious when it comes to Big Pharma. In Africa you hear stories about alleged drug testing on unsuspecting people and in fact, Nigeria has filed lawsuits alleging such allegations. You hear plenty of rumors – some true, some bizarrely false – but nevertheless, any time Big Pharma moves, people around the world are cautious. It would be great for everyone if this new direction by GSK is honest and for real. The Guardian:

The world’s second biggest pharmaceutical company is to radically shift its attitude to providing cheap drugs to millions of people in the developing world.

In a major change of strategy, the new head of GlaxoSmithKline, Andrew Witty, has told the Guardian he will slash prices on all medicines in the poorest countries, give back profits to be spent on hospitals and clinics and – most ground-breaking of all – share knowledge about potential drugs that are currently protected by patents.

Witty says he believes drug companies have an obligation to help the poor get treatment. He challenges other pharmaceutical giants to follow his lead.

Pressure on the industry has been growing over the past decade, triggered by the Aids catastrophe.

Drug companies have been repeatedly criticised for failing to drop their prices for HIV drugs while millions died in Africa and Asia. Since then, campaigners have targeted them for defending the patents, which keep their prices high, while attempting to crush competition from generic manufacturers, who undercut them dramatically in countries where patents do not apply.

The reputation of the industry suffered a further damaging blow with the publication and film of John le Carré’s book The Constant Gardener, which depicted drug companies as uncaring and corrupt.


An American in Paris, France. BA in History & Political Science from Ohio State. Provided consulting services to US software startups, launching new business overseas that have both IPO’d and sold to well-known global software companies. Currently launching a new cloud-based startup. Full bio here.

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