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GlaxoSmithKline promises to help make drugs more affordable in the developing world

April 13 2016

Pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline has outlined plans to stop filing patents in low-income countries. Chief executive Sir Andrew Witty said he wanted to take a ‘graduated’ approach to patenting, helping to make drugs more affordable in the developing world. In the world’s poorest countries, generic companies would then be free to make cheap copies of the drugs straight away without being sued.  In lower middle income countries, the company will continue to file patents, but licences will be granted to generic manufacturers in exchange for a small royalty.

The move will include approximately 85 countries, with a combined population of more than 2 billion. This news comes after criticism that many new drugs are too expensive for billions of people in the poorest countries around the world. Raymond Hill, former president of the British Pharmalogical Society said it was a brave step and that it “sets a precedent for other major pharmaceutical companies to do the same” However, he added a caveat, saying “The impact of this move on the treatment of cancer and other diseases in each individual country will depend on whether there is a local adequate healthcare infrastructure that will allow the safe use of powerful new drugs in an appropriate group of patients.


GSK has also said it wants to put all its future cancer drugs into the Medicines Patent Pool in order to address “the increasing burden of cancer in developing countries”. Established in 2010, the patent pool has provided quicker access to treatments for HIV, tuberculosis and hepatitis C; expanding this pool to cancer treatments is part of GSK’s initiative to improve access to effective healthcare around the world. 

 Source BBC News