Former SmithKline Beecham AIDS Drug Lobbyist ‘Defects’ to Oxfam
David Earnshaw, a former senior lobbyist with SmithKline Beecham, told Reuters yesterday that he is preparing to join the British-based charity Oxfam as head of the organization's European campaign to ensure affordable access to AIDS medications for developing nations. Earnshaw, who worked for SmithKline for two years, is part of an increasing number of pharmaceutical company "defectors" who are joining non-governmental organizations. Oxfam has recently "targeted" GlaxoSmithKline, the corporation formed in February by the merger of Glaxo Wellcome and SmithKline Beecham, which "dominates" the world's AIDS drug market, for "abusing" drug patents and keeping expensive AIDS medications out of the reach of patients in developing nations. Earnshaw said he was "frustrated" by the pharmaceutical industry's "slow response" to the African AIDS crisis and added that the corporations need to "show more imagination" in their handling of drug access. The companies, local organizations and global NGOs need to "forge better partnerships" in order to increase access to AIDS medications, he said. "It could be argued that the way companies are currently doing business in the southern hemisphere is crassly stupid," he said, calling the approach "short-sighted." In addition, he "slammed" the U.N.-brokered "Accelerating Access" discount program, which is attempting to increase access and affordability to AIDS drugs in developing countries, saying it had reached less than 2,000 Africans. He did, however, praise GlaxoSmithKline CEO Jean-Pierre Garnier for his "personal commitment" to increasing drug access (Prodhan, Reuters, 4/17).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.