GlaxoSmithKline to Offer ‘Heavily Discounted’ AIDS Drugs to NGOs in Africa
Drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline announced yesterday that it will supply "heavily discounted" antiretroviral medications to not-for-profit organizations that distribute the drugs in Africa, Reuters Health reports. Announcing his firm's pretax profits of $7.7 billion, CEO J.P. Garnier acknowledged the drug industry's responsibility to ensure that high drug prices do not deter millions of HIV-positive people in developing nations from receiving treatment. He noted that GlaxoSmithKline already offers antiHIV drugs at discounts of up to 90% to Senegal, Uganda and Rwanda and said "discussions were underway" with another 31 countries. But he said that "it is not enough. Faster progress is needed. ... I have made it a priority from day one to urgently review what more we can do in partnership with others. This is a very complex issue but we are determined to play our part." Because the drug company is "not going to wait for the governments" to negotiate drug discounts, it will go "directly to those [nongovernment organizations]" that supply the drugs to patients. However, Garnier said that "all sectors of society -- not just the pharmaceutical industry -- must play their part in removing barriers to health care," in response to analysts who have called the pharmaceutical industry's role in limiting drug access to poorer countries "morally questionable" (Woodman, Reuters Health, 2/21). British charity Oxfam, which recently criticized GlaxoSmithKline for failing to make antiretrovirals more accessible to Africans with HIV, "welcomed" the offer as "public recognition by a leading drugmaker that prices are key to people in poor countries" (Hirschler, Reuters, 2/21).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.