Pharma CEOs pressed to join R&D patent pool

The British government plans to lean heavily on the world's biggest drug companies to get them to voluntarily relinquish patents on a broad array of drug technologies that could be used to spur new research into therapies to treat HIV and a host of neglected diseases.

The UK wants big pharma to follow in the footsteps of GlaxoSmithKline, which is placing a number of patents into a pool that can be used to inspire new R&D projects for the people of developing countries.

"I can't tell you how many speeches I've heard about, you know, 'I wish we could make progress on TB' or 'Why haven't we got treatments for these things?', says Glaxo CEO Andrew Witty. "We all sit there saying well yes, it's terrible isn't it, instead of actually trying to do something about it. So ... what I really hope this does is stimulate people to start engaging with us, and maybe other people to say, look, actually, if you did it this way it could really work."

Ivan Lewis, the minister for international development, says he will take the appeal directly to CEOs to see who will participate in the research pool.

- read the report from the Guardian