GSK opens up its patentsFebruary 2010
The world’s second-largest pharmaceuticals company is to offer free global access to potential malaria cures.
GlaxoSmithKline has placed thousands of drugs in the public domain that may cure malaria, saying the move is an ‘imperative to earn the trust of society, not just by meeting expectations but by exceeding them’.
The company will publish details of more than 13,000 chemical compounds from its own library with the potential to act against the parasite causing malaria in sub-Saharan Africa.
GSK has also announced an $8million (£4.96m, €5.6m) fund to pay for scientists to explore these chemicals in an ‘open lab’ within its Spanish research centre, which spends much time on studying malaria.
Andrew Witty, GSK’s chief executive, said: ‘Given that there is only a handful of big companies who focus on malaria, this is a chance to get thousands of researchers involved.’
However, NGOs have responded guardedly to the news. The French medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres said free patents, though important, are not enough alone to stem the spread of disease, and criticized GSK for not extending its programme to tackle HIV/Aids.
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