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A step in the right direction

by Kazeem Olalekan MRPharmS

I am an unashamed fan of big pharma. I have expressed this in a number of my posts. Given the right leadership and a dedication to what matters, then they can play a vibrant role in economic wellbeing of the nation. They can of course play a key role in helping face off the medical challenges of the future. We need a secure and innovative pharmaceutical industry. I should know, I am a pharmacist.

In my letter to Americans, I stated thus (1):

I am personally encouraged by what is coming out of the big pharmaceutical companies. They are beginning to understand that they have a social responsibility. It is not all about profits to shareholders. A number of them are now consolidating their positions. They want to be part of the solution not the problem. They now know what they have to do. And if they want to innovate and they ask you for help, it is within your rights (and power) to develop a system which will provide the pharmaceutical companies with opportunities to innovate. It can be done and it is being done. What will you rather have your pharmaceutical companies doing? Supplying drugs to you on the strength of an effective marketing campaign or on the strength of a great product? It is in everyone’s interest for the pharmaceutical companies to develop new innovative drugs.

Kazeem Olalekan www.openlta.com/1.html 16/08/2009

My relationship with the big pharma has been a mixture of frustration and elation. As far back as 2007, I questioned why Pfizer had to withdraw Exubera (2). In September of last year I expressed my concern and disappointment at how GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) dealt with the Avandia issue on this blog (3).

In 2009, we awarded Pfizer the MUR Online Pharmaceutical Industry Award for reasons outlined (4). I have also worked with Pfizer to support some of the pharmacy events locally (5). I have to say that I am increasingly impressed by the message coming from GSK, an important British pharmaceutical company and global brand. In a recent interview on the flagship BBC Today program, Andrew Witty (GSK chief executive) outline the company’s new standards to include (6):

  1. Committed to publish research results (positive or negative) in a timely way.
  2. Low cost pricing (at cost for developing countries + higher percentage of R&D burden carried by developed countries)
  3. “This company under my leadership is a company which is going to be driven by values of transparency, respect for people, integrity and a focus on the patient” –  Andrew Witty
  4. GSK is committed to investing in the UK.

“This company under my leadership is a company which is going to be driven by values of transparency, respect for people, integrity and a focus on the patient”
– Andrew Witty

So when I came across the following collaboration between GSK and Pfizer in creating a new specialist HIV company with an equity split of 85% GSK and 15% Pfizer, I am immensely impressed. This is the type of collaboration which makes sense and is a clinical area I should be making a contribution to.

glaxo

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