Drug Giant ‘Pledges Cheap Medicine for Poor’

LONDON ~ The head of British drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) said in a British newspaper at the weekend that he would cut prices for medication in developing countries and share knowledge of patented treatments.

Andrew Witty told the Guardian he believed pharmaceuticals companies had an obligation to help the poor receive treatment and he challenged his rivals to follow GSK’s example.

He said: “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.

“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.”

Witty said GSK, the world’s second-largest pharmaceutical company, would cut its prices in the 50 least developed countries to no more than 25 percent of the levels in Britain and the United States.

He also said any chemicals and processes owned by GSK under patent would be shared with other researchers and 20 percent of the company’s profits in the developing world would be reinvested in hospitals and clinics.

Charities such as Oxfam have highlighted the fact that drug patents prevent the poor from obtaining cheaper, generic versions of the same medicine.

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