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Big Help from Big Pharma

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Activists often slam large pharmaceutical companies for failing to develop drugs that are of critical importance to the developing world.

Andrew Witty, GlaxoSmithKline’s youthful chief executive, gave those critics pause yesterday in a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City.

Witty promised to sell the company’s malaria vaccine that is in late-stage clinical trials in Africa for no more than a 5 percent profit. At the same time, he is inviting other researchers to work on combatting  the mosquito-borne malady at a company laboratory in Spain and will make public a library of thousands of compounds screened for leads against malaria, according to a report at

Witty is setting an example for the entire industry at a time when new drug pipelines are increasingly challenged and the companies may only be able to survive if they are able to devise innovative new strategies in collaboration with governments, academia and the biotech industry.

Glaxo’s move may bode well for the ultimate fate of Unitaid, an attempt to pool patents to let generic drug manufacturers create inexpensive HIV drugs.

Kudos to Witty. Now let’s see if the rest of the industry can respond in kind. We need other drug giants with ample resources to step up for schistosomiasis, Chagas disease and the like.








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  1. 1. freakyguy6190 1:02 am 01/22/2010

    Well lets see how long it last before they go back to there usual old ways(I hope not).

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  2. 2. SD_StoneCutter 9:41 am 01/22/2010

    Well, that is good news. Now the others need to follow suit for this to actually have an impact and if they do there will be only one other thing to take care of. Take the "Food" out of "The Food and Drug Administration" and we’ll be good to go.

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  3. 3. jgdalal 12:36 pm 01/22/2010

    Only 5% profit is great but what good is that if the price is still beyond the reach of those who are dying and need the drug the most? I’ll hold my applause until those needing the drug have been able to buy it.

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  4. 4. Wayne Williamson 4:51 pm 01/22/2010

    I kind of agree with jgdalal. With out knowing the actual per person cost to receive a dose it could be moot.
    If its 1 dollar then this could help a great many.
    If its 10 dollars then less…etc.

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  5. 5. Sinick 5:12 pm 01/23/2010

    Hear this. You can be sure that Big Pharma will develop drugs for the developing world if they determine beforehand that there are big profits to be had.

    You can’t believe anything that these CEO’s tell you. If they are not concerned about the welfare of the citizens in their host countries, what makes you think that they are concerned about anybody else in the world?

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