Back grey_arrow_rt.gif
GSK Poor Countries New Programs
GSK offers to share data to help fight malaria fight
GlaxoSmithKline is to take the unprecedented step of sharing its scientific data and laboratories in an effort to wipe out tropical diseases.
Andrew Witty, chief executive of GSK and the driving force behind the move, said the drug company has a "genuine appetite to change the landscape of healthcare for the world's poorest people".
Africa is estimated to carry 70pc of the worldwide healthcare burden but receives just 3pc of global healthcare resources. Mr Witty said the issue was "very personal" to him after periods working on the continent.
Last year, GSK announced it would create a patent pool of some of its existing products and not-for-profit-pricing on a string of drugs for the developing world. However, the new initiative goes further and is focused on malaria, which kills at least one million children every year in Africa.
GSK, the world's third-largest drug company, will freely release 13,500 of its compounds, via a website, that it believes have the potential to be developed into new malaria treatments. The UK company will also open up one of its labs in Tres Cantos, Spain, for non-GSK scientists to use to investigate treatments for other tropical diseases. The "Open Lab" will have space for 60 scientists and GSK will provide $8m (4.9m) of funding for their research
Mr Witty said: "If there is a scientist out there without the resources, we are putting together the various strands."
GSK will also adopt not-for-profit pricing on its potential malaria vaccine, the world's leading candidate for a prevention of the disease, and reinvest the small returns in the research of tropical disease treatments.
A spokesman for the Red Cross said: "Any research which reduces the burden of this disease has to be welcomed."

GSK opens doors to malaria researchers for free
20 January 2010
GlaxoSmithKline has outlined a series of initiatives aimed at attacking neglected diseases and says that its experimental malaria vaccine is just a couple of years away from being approved.
First up, the drugs giant is to make 13,500 malaria compounds freely available to researchers, via "leading scientific websites". GSK has screened more than 2 million molecules for any that may inhibit the malaria parasite P. falciparum, the deadliest form of the disease, a process which took five scientists a year to complete.
Timothy Wells, chief scientific officer of the Medicines for Malaria Venture, which has been working with GSK on the project, said that by sharing the data from the screening collaboration, "the research community can start to build up a public repository of knowledge that should be as powerful as the human genome databases". He added that it could "set a new trend to revolutionise the urgent search for new medicines to tackle malaria".
GSK also outlined what it calls a "sustainable approach" it has developed to price RTS,S, the world's most advanced malaria candidate vaccine, which is currently in late-stage trials across seven African countries.
The pricing model "will cover the cost of the vaccine together with a small return" which will be "fully reinvested into R&D for second-generation malaria vaccines, or vaccines for other neglected tropical diseases".
Andrew Witty, GSK chief executive, told reporters that taking a "small return" of around 5% is a sensible step because "if we set a precedent of not-for-profit (pricing), we could discourage others from doing research" into these diseases. He made the comments before giving a speech in New York later today where he will say that while changing the business model for the company to improve performance, "equally important is the imperative to earn the trust of society, not just by meeting expectations but by exceeding them".
Mr Witty argues that the various measures being announced "are characterised by a determination to be more flexible, open and willing to learn". He added that "we are working with world-class partners to find new business models to expand access to medicines", saying that GSK "has the capability to make a difference and a genuine appetite to change the landscape of healthcare for the world's poorest people".
Other initiatives include the establishment of an 'Open Lab' based at the company's research centre at Tres Cantos campus, Spain, with capacity for scientists to develop new medicines for diseases of the developing world. Initial seed investment of $8 million has been set aside for the not-for-profit project.
GSK also announced that governance of its previously-announced 'knowledge pool' will be taken over by an independent third party, BIO Ventures for Global Health, and the Emory Institute for Drug Discovery is the latest partner that has agreed to join. Also, a collaboration has also been established with South African firm iThemba Pharmaceuticals to discover new medicines to treat tuberculosis.
By Kevin Grogan
  icon paper stack View Older Articles   Back to Top