Sharing the wealth

Posted on 9 Sep 2009 by The Manufacturer

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is being implored by charities and health organisations to share its HIV medicine making competence by joining a patent pool with rival manufacturers.

The pool is being put together by a group called Unitaid with the idea of making cheaper copies of current medicines which are more affordable for third world countries.

The British pharmaceutical giant has reportedly resisted the idea thus far though chief executive Andrew Witty told The Guardian that the firm had yet to be officially contacted by Unitaid. “I’m not saying no to anything because nobody’s actually put in front of me a really concrete proposition,” he told the paper.

On Sunday though GSK was presented with a letter signed by a 15-strong consortium which includes the Stop Aids Campaign, Unicef and Christian Aid.

Part of it read: “GSK’s insistence that a patent pool for HIV is unnecessary is surprising given the woeful lack of innovation into HIV treatments suitable for children and the obvious need for new safer and more effective fixed dose combinations for adults.”

Witty pointed to measures already taken by GSK to aid third world health, including capping prices in the poorest countries at a quarter of Western prices and reinvesting 20 per cent of profits made through sales in third world countries back into those economies.