Glaxo to Cut Drug Prices in Developing World

No. 2 pharma firm will open 'patent pool' to outside scientists
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Feb 14, 2009 11:25 AM CST
The GlaxoSmithKline headquarters are seen in west London, Thursday, Feb. 5, 2009. \   (AP Photo/Akira Suemori)
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(Newser) – GlaxoSmithKline’s new boss has proposed a radical rethinking of big pharma in developing countries: He plans to cut prices, offer portions of profits to hospitals, and loosen his firm’s grip on patents that keep prices up, the Guardian reports. “I think it's absolutely the kind of thing large global companies need to be demonstrating, that they've got a more balanced view of the world than short-term returns,” Andrew Witty says.

Glaxo will slash prices in developing countries to a maximum of 25% of Western prices. It will reinvest 20% of its profits in the poorest countries into clinics. And it will put intellectual property tied to neglected diseases into a “patent pool” so that outside scientists can help battle the diseases. Witty says he recognizes there could be a big-pharma backlash to his plans, but “maybe somebody has to move before many people move.”