Just when you thought that money ruled everything, along comes a story that gives you hope. It seems the age-old gripe against the pharmaceutical industry of inflated prices and restricted patents for third world health care has just had a volte-face – and it doesn’t seem like a PR stunt! The Guardian newspaper reports that a new initiative to rid the poorest countries of antiquated diseases that still kill millions is moving briskly ahead, thanks to the philanthropic pursuits of the Bill Gates Foundation and the World Health Organization.
13 of the world’s largest drug companies have agreed to put the profit motive to the side and work together to end specific tropical diseases that just need a push and joint effort to eradicate. Sir Andrew Witty, chief executive of Britain’s GlaxoSmithKline, said this, “The biggest achievement over the last year, I think, has been to get some of the companies to really massively increase their commitments, so that everybody is kind of at this at an industrial level. I hope that what everybody is going to see today is an industry at its best, actually.” And not only an industry at it’s best, but one that the public wouldn’t have reckoned would ever be involved in this way.
The image of a greedy, giant drug company making 30% profit on branding alone has just taken a hit. This is made even more impressive when you realize that the companies involved (Pfizer, GSK et al) are opening up their research libraries to each other and working together to develop entirely new drugs for this campaign. A mighty effort and one that is long overdue. Who says the news is all bad?