Gates Foundation Purchases Nearly $205M in Shares of Nine Large Pharmaceutical Companies, Including AIDS Drug Makers
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has purchased $205 million in shares of nine major pharmaceutical companies, including Merck and Pfizer, the Wall Street Journal reports. The purchase, which is likely to "attract attention more for its symbolism than its size," means that the foundation, a "prominent voice" in the discussion about how to supply AIDS drugs to developing nations, now shares a financial interest with the makers of antiretroviral drugs. The Gates Foundation already helps fund the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations, which purchases vaccines from some of drug companies. In addition, a Gates Foundation representative sits on the 18-member board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which has so far raised $2.2 billion -- including a $100 million pledge from the foundation -- and is expected to become a "major buyer" of AIDS drugs. According to Richard Feachem, director of the Institute for Global Health at the University of California-San Francisco and head of the Global Fund, the fund's "massive buying power" could "create a strong 'pull factor'" and urge the makers of AIDS drugs to offer the drugs at cheaper prices (Bank/Buckman, Wall Street Journal, 5/17).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.