INTERNATIONAL NEWS: Glaxo cuts HIV drug costs in Third World

LONDON: Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline has pledged to offer HIV/AIDS drugs at a 90% discount to non-profit organizations planning to distribute them in Africa and other developing countries. The decision came just three weeks after Oxfam launched 'Cutting the Cost,' a campaign designed to force pharmaceutical companies to lower the cost of drugs in economically deficient nations.

LONDON: Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline has pledged to offer HIV/AIDS drugs at a 90% discount to non-profit organizations planning to distribute them in Africa and other developing countries. The decision came just three weeks after Oxfam launched 'Cutting the Cost,' a campaign designed to force pharmaceutical companies to lower the cost of drugs in economically deficient nations.

LONDON: Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline has pledged to offer HIV/AIDS drugs at a 90% discount to non-profit organizations planning to distribute them in Africa and other developing countries. The decision came just three weeks after Oxfam launched 'Cutting the Cost,' a campaign designed to force pharmaceutical companies to lower the cost of drugs in economically deficient nations.

Glaxo announced the plan in an earnings conference call with analysts, in which it declared its pretax profit rose 13% to dollars 7.71 billion in 2000.

Glaxo's program extends its existing preferential pricing programs beyond governments and the United Nations. 'We will work with other groups to get medication out there,' said Mary Anne Rhyne, a Glaxo spokesperson based in the US. Groups such as Doctors Without Borders, which has lobbied for pricing changes, are among those included.

Oxfam said it welcomes the company's decision, but is reserving judgement.

'We are still waiting to see what it actually means,' said Arup Biswas, Oxfam spokesman.

Biswas said that Oxfam's campaign had most likely been a factor in Glaxo's decision. 'We were using it as an example because it is in a position to lead other drug companies,' he said.

Glaxo is not the only pharmaceutical company to make concessions concerning the cost of treating HIV/AIDS in developing nations. In December of last year, Pfizer formed a partnership with the South African Ministry of Health to provide Diflucan, an antifungal medication, free to patients in that country (PRWeek, December 4, 2000).



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