Tiered pricing allows pharmaceutical and vaccine manufacturers to make our products more accessible to developing populations.
For instance, the least developed countries (LDCs) in the world pay as much as 90% less for GSK's vaccines than developed
areas such as the US and Europe. This model has enabled us to provide 80% of our vaccine volume to the developing world and
focus a third of our vaccine pipeline on diseases that disproportionately affect resource-poor countries.
Additionally, in 2009 GSK reduced its prices for patented medicines in LDCs to be no higher than 25% of developed-world prices.
Since that time, we've seen significant increases in uptake for the majority of products. In some cases, sales are eight times
higher than they were the previous year. In a further effort to tackle barriers to access, GSK aligned its social investment
and community engagement. The company has committed to reinvesting 20% of profits made on medicines in LDCs to support infrastructure
for local healthcare delivery. This project has already generated some exciting projects, including providing motorcycle ambulances
for pregnant women in Sudan.
In wealthier developing areas (i.e., middle-income countries), healthcare is often paid for by patients out-of-pocket and
the wide range in income levels can prevent many from accessing necessary preventive care and treatment. Therefore, we have
also started to rework our prices in middle-income countries to ensure our products are available to those people who have
This year, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) launched a new funding mechanism, the Advance Market Commitment
(AMC), for pneumococcal vaccines. AMC provides another example of how industry can think differently about access and sustainability.
GSK and Pfizer (New York) have each agreed to supply as many as 300 million doses of their pneumococcal vaccines over the
next decade to GAVI countries. This contract will help protect as many as 100 million children on GSK's side alone and has
allowed the company to build a new manufacturing facility in Singapore that will eventually supply hundreds of millions of
doses. Although the program is still in its infancy, AMC is working to close the time gap between access to vaccines in developed
countries compared with the world's poorest countries.
Industry as a catalyst for change
Overall, by refining one's core business practices, companies can help tackle barriers to access head-on. Although GSK was
recently ranked at the top of the 2010 Access to Medicines Index, we recognize there is no room for complacency.
The global community, including industry, must provide the political will, a significant mobilization of additional resources
and a spirit of partnership if we are to see an improvement in healthcare and quality of life across the developing world.
The challenge of narrowing the healthcare gap is enormous and far too complex to be addressed by any one group or organization
By working together, we can build on existing efforts and find new ways to help people everywhere break the cycle of decline
from illness. If we keep them well now, we can improve the health and economy of future generations.
Chris Strutt is senior vice-president of government affairs, public policy and patient advocacy, at GlaxoSmithKline, London, UK.