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GlaxoSmithKline uses innovation to play Robin Hood for the poor countries.

GSK to help the poor by reducing drug patents

Fariha Marjia
GSK to help the poor by reducing drug patents

GSK (GlaxoSmithKline) the leading British pharmaceutical company has chosen to share their innovative medicines with the less developed countries. The British drug makers seek to make their medicines more affordable by refraining from imposing strict patent rights. However, the decision to whether file for patent or not will be decided upon each developing country’s wealth and affordability.  

It is their belief that they would benefit such developing countries by not filing for patents. Hence, allowing generic companies to make cheap copies of its drugs without the fear of patent infringement. On the other hand, for countries with respectively lower middle-income rate, GSK does intend to file patents but will mainly strive for license deals that will grant supplies of generic versions of its medicines for a period of 10 years. However, these licenses are said to provide GSK with certain sum of royalty, in return of the access to their intellectual property, from the generic local companies. GSK has concluded the numbers of countries to be around 85 while the supporting population is around 2 billion.

Nevertheless, countries that generate relatively high, or upper-middle class income, will be bound by the patent rights of GSK. The countries with major economies such as China, Brazil and India will also be serving GSK their patent protection. 

This new step from GSK was not made straight out of the goodness of their hearts; rather this was another market ploy for the company to tackle recent criticism that they produce drugs, which are too expensive for the greater mass population of the poorer countries such as Africa and Latin America. As a result, billions of people are deprived of cure and health benefits. As a matter of shooting down two birds with one stone, the company’s Chief Executive, Andrew Witty saw this as an opportunity to polish his reputation before he retires next year.

This initiative by GSK, however rewarding it is for them, will nevertheless benefit the poor countries. And to further advance their medicine and healthcare. The decision to waive patent rights not only gains them a favor from the consumers but also amps up the competition market. 

GSK does not wish to hold back once it starts giving. They also expressed their hopes to give developing and poor countries access to their next-generation cancer drugs by allowing access to their intellectual property through the UN-backed Medicines Patent Pool (MPP).
Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) non-profit organization, works to ease up intellectual property restrictions, has appraised the move and welcomed it. The initiative from GSK provided access to, much needed cancer drugs. GSK had previously sold its particular cancer drugs to Novartis but the dealing closed last year. The company still carries on a number of experimental immune-oncology and epigenetic cancer therapies. But now with the aid of GSK, cure can be provided to millions of people from the poorer countries without the fear of high cost. 

April 10, 2016
About Author

A Law major, Fariha loves skimming through libraries and smelling old books. Her interest for movies and music makes her free-write contents and cover reviews at Intellect.

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