Protestors Call for Increased Drug Access for Developing Nations at GlaxoSmithKline’s Annual Meeting
Protestors from Oxfam on Monday greeted shareholders at GlaxoSmithKline's annual meeting in London with "imitation pillboxes" containing flyers calling on the company, the world's largest supplier of HIV/AIDS medications, to lower prices on "essential" drugs in developing countries, the London Independent reports. The protestors, along with some investors, said that drug patents are "incompatible" with increasing access to "life-saving" therapies and "quizzed" company officials about how GSK plans to make treatments for HIV/AIDS and malaria more affordable for developing nations. GSK CEO Jean-Pierre Garnier said patents were "not to blame" and cited a lack of health care infrastructure, as well as inadequate health care funding and a "lack of political will" on the part of some governments, as reasons for the limited drug access in some nations (Dandy, London Independent, 5/22). According to a GSK release, Garnier "restated GSK's commitment to the developing world" and said that the company is the only drug firm doing vaccine research on HIV, TB and malaria. He also "praised" what drug firms, governments and nongovernmental organizations have done so far to increase drug access. "There has been significant progress around access issues in recent months and a growing sense of partnership. We must continue to work together to fight the diseases that ravage the developing world," he said (GSK release, 5/21).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.