CalPERS Committee Will Not Call for GlaxoSmithKline To Report Licensing of Antiretroviral Drugs
The California Public Employees Retirement System's investment committee on Monday decided 6-5 not to send a "stern" letter to pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline requesting that the drug maker submit a report on its licensing of antiretroviral drugs, Reuters reports (Reuters, 12/15). CalPERS, the largest U.S. pension fund, is believed to hold roughly $760 million shares of GSK, which manufactures several antiretroviral drugs (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/25). The letter also would have asked CalPERS to discuss a ruling by South Africa's Competition Commission about GSK's pricing of antiretrovirals, Reuters reports (Reuters, 12/15). South Africa's Competition Commission in October decided that GSK and Boehringer Ingelheim violated the country's competition act by setting antiretroviral drug prices too high and by refusing to license their patents to generic drug manufacturers. The commission recommended to the Competition Tribunal -- which has enforcement powers -- that the two companies be forced to allow generic licenses in exchange for royalties and be required to pay a fine of 10% of their annual antiretroviral sales for each year that they have violated the 1998 law. Both companies denied the commission's charges that they violated the country's competition act; however, the two companies last week signed a deal in which they will grant licenses to four different generic drug makers to manufacture their patented antiretroviral drugs. The commission said that following the announcement of the deal, it would ask that GSK not be fined, and the commission said that it is negotiating a similar deal with Boehringer (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 12/11).
The pension fund has been "caught in the middle" of a "long-running dispute" between the drug maker and HIV/AIDS advocates, Reuters reports (Reuters, 12/15). In April, at the urging of the Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, CalPERS sent a letter to GSK, asking the company to reevaluate its antiretroviral drug pricing for developing countries and to look into licensing generic antiretrovirals for humanitarian purposes. Two weeks later, GSK cut the prices of its antiretrovirals by as much as 47% for 63 nations, but claimed that the CalPERs letter had no bearing on the decision (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/21). Tom Myers, general counsel of AHF said, "Clearly, CalPERS wishes to move on. If circumstances change, we'll certainly be back" (Reuters, 12/15).