GSK & Save the Children ramp up collaborationJune 2013
Save the Children and pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) are ramping up their collaborative efforts with an ambitious new partnership to save the lives of a million of the poorest children in the world. While the two organisations have been working together for eight years on a number of public health projects, this initiative takes the relationship to a new level.
For the first time, Save the Children will be involved in helping GSK to develop medicines for children, with a seat on a new paediatric R&D board to accelerate progress on innovative life-saving interventions for under- fives.
The GSK-Save the Children partnership will also focus on widening vaccine coverage to the poorest children, increasing investment in health workers, as well as developing a low-cost nutritional product.
Amongst the key initiatives are the transformation of an antiseptic used in mouthwash into a life-saving product for new-borns and the roll-out of a powder-form of an antibiotic.
Flagship programmes will run initially in Democratic Republic of Congo and Kenya. These will be closely monitored and the evidence on how to save children’s lives at scale will be used to replicate programmes in other countries.
Simon Wright, Head of Child Survival Policy and Advocacy at Save the Children told Ethical Performance that by partnering with the charity GSK is able to connect with the social purpose of what it does. “We’ll be able to offer advice on how they should be thinking; what their R&D priorities should be. We also offer the opportunity to be a combined voice on access to healthcare.”
In light of criticism levelled at the pharma giant a decade ago (for its high price tags on HIV drugs for the developing world), Wright said that GSK had changed. “GSK is on a journey. Its ceo Sir Andrew Witty set out a different agenda in 2009 where he acknowledged that GSK would have to be proactive in building the health infrastructure in nations where it wishes to operate,” he said. “Yes, it remains a private company out to make profits and we’re a not- for- profit organisation but within that framework we can influence each other and we’ll see that a company of that size can still have positive social outcomes.”
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