Putting health before profits

By Sean Aqui | Related entries in Corporate Business, Drugs, Health Care, News

It’s not as simple as that, but the math is pretty stark. GlaxoSmithKline, which spent decades and more than $400 million developing a meningitis vaccine, expects to sell it only in Africa, and at a price that will never cover the cost of development.

As the story notes, this is not an entirely selfless act. Some of it is PR, attempting to repair the damage done by a lawsuit over AIDS drugs a few years back. Some of it is marketing, establishing a presence in markets where GSK may hope to sell other drugs down the road.

Nor is it a solution to finding cures for “neglected” diseases — illnesses that occur solely in the developing world, and thus have no rich-nation market that can be charged higher prices to pay for the development costs. Companies cannot be expected to routinely write off $400 million for the global good.

But it is a sign that pharmaceutical companies are waking up to the complex world they operate in, and that profit motive is not the only valid consideration for their research efforts. GSK is doing an extraordinary thing, and millions of lives will likely be saved because of it. Good for them.


This entry was posted on Friday, March 30th, 2007 and is filed under Corporate Business, Drugs, Health Care, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “Putting health before profits”

  1. Jay Says:

    I would also like to point out that GSK is wrapping up a vaccination campaign in Africa against elephantitis. This program was also intended solely for use in Africa and the drug was provided at cost.

  2. Justin Gardner Says:

    That’s good news. Thanks for sharing.

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