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GSK unveils access plan for low-income countries

Will file patents for its drugs according to each country’s 'economic maturity'

GSKGlaxoSmithKline has said it will not file patents for drugs in the world's poorest countries in order to improve access to its products.

The company said it will instead pitch its approach to intellectual property in a country to reflect its "economic maturity".

There will be free generic competition in least-developed countries (LDCs), while GSK will seek patents in lower middle-income countries (LMICs) but will license rights to generic manufacturers for a 10-year period in return for a modest royalty.

The company's chief executive Sir Andrew Witty - who will step down next year - announced the measure just ahead of the UN High Level Panel on Access to Medicines yesterday.

GSK already has a good track record on medicines access, ranking at number one in the biannual Access To Medicines Index (ATMI) - funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the UK and Dutch governments - four times in a row.

The company has implemented several other programmes to expand access, including tiered pricing and building healthcare infrastructure.

GSK also said it plans to commit its future portfolio of cancer treatments to patent pooling and will explore the concept with the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) - which currently focuses on HIV, TB and hepatitis C drugs - "to help address the increasing burden of cancer in developing countries".

The MPP was set up in 2010 and focuses on voluntary licensing agreements with companies serving in low-income countries and LMICs.

Other companies that have announced initiatives to improve access to medicines in poorer countries include Novartis, which recently announced plans to make 15 of its medicines available for just $1 a month.

Another firm active in this area is Gilead Sciences, which signed licensing deals with Indian generics companies to expand access to its hepatitis C therapy Sovaldi (sofosbuvir).

The intellectual property measure is the latest in a series of initiatives at GSK seeking to change the way the company does business - and patch up its reputation in the wake of a high-profile corruption scandal in China that resulted in a $487m fine in 2014.

Other changes to its practices include removing sales targets for reps and a gradual move towards stopping direct payments to healthcare professionals (HCPs) for speaking at and attending medical conferences.

Article by
Phil Taylor

1st April 2016

From: Sales, Regulatory

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