Wednesday, March 19, 2008

GlaxoSmithKline Tears Down the Barriers

Somehow I missed the importance of this post over at Global Health Policy, the Center for Global Development's Health blog.

Yesterday, the Financial Times reported GlaxoSmithKline's exciting new strategy to expand markets and increase access to medicines in low- and middle-income countries. Through an internal policy known as "tearing down the barriers," the company has established differential pricing schemes within and between India, South Africa and other developing countries, in hopes of shifting to a new low price, high volume business model. While similar initiatives have existed for AIDS antiretrovirals (in part through the work of the Clinton Foundation), the GSK strategy notably moves beyond the "Big Three" infectious diseases to tackle the growing challenge of diabetes and other noncommunicable diseases with a dual market among the rich and poor.

This is big news. Development groups and charities (and many others, myself included) tend to focus on AIDS, malaria, TB, and other 'big name' diseases, but forget to think about non-communicable diseases and conditions that can make a productive and healthy life very difficult. This might be a symptom of the general health (or at least easy access to medications) enjoyed by most people who support international projects, who are usually not the same ones who are most often debilitated by these diseases. It's nice to see a multinational pharmaceutical company stepping in to fill the gap.

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