Glaxo promises $97M for new AIDS R&D initiative

In another sign that Big Pharma is willing to invest heavily in new research that can achieve a dual purpose--providing therapies to the developing world while helping heal the industry's badly damaged reputation--GlaxoSmithKline will devote $97 million into the research, development and access of new AIDS drugs for Africa. GlaxoSmithKline also provided a free license to Ziagen for the South African generic company Aspen.

Glaxo has been taking a lead role in demonstrating its willingness to fund development programs as well as production for people in the developing world. Afflicted by years of accusations that the pharmaceutical industry was more interested in profits than people, Glaxo has responded by putting patents for tropical diseases in a free 'pool,' an initiative that Alnylam joined last week.

And that's not all. Just a month ago Glaxo offered to donate 50 million doses of a new swine flu vaccine to poorer nations, a move that may have caused some discomfort at Novartis, which has resisted pressure to give away a vaccine that is in big demand around the globe.

One public service that Glaxo has drawn the line on, though, is pooling its patents for HIV/AIDS drugs.

"The patent pool on neglected diseases was because there was really no research going on in that area--HIV is not a neglected disease," Glaxo CEO Andrew Witty told reporters.

- here's GSK's release
- check out the report from Reuters