GlaxoSmithKline to ‘drop patents in poor countries for better drug access’

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Pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline has said it wants to make it easier for manufacturers in the world’s poorest countries to copy its medicines.

The British company said it would not file patents in these countries.

Chief executive Sir Andrew Witty said he wanted to take a “graduated” approach to the company’s “intellectual property” based on the wealth of nations around the globe.

Experts have described the plans as “brave and positive”.

GSK hopes that by removing any fear of it filing for patent protection in poorer countries it will allow independent companies to make and sell versions of its drugs in those areas, thereby widening the public access to them.

‘Clear and simple’

Sir Andrew said he hoped Africa would benefit most from the move.

In accordance with international guidelines set out by the United Nations and World Bank, the company has drawn up a list of 50 countries with a combined population of about 1 billion people, where it has said it will not file for patents.

In what GSK describes as lower middle income countries it will continue to file patents, but will grant licences to generic manufacturers in exchange for a “small royalty”.

Sir Andrew added: “The changes we are setting out aim to make it as clear and simple as possible for generic manufacturers to make and supply versions of GSK medicines.”

 

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