GSK announces ‘open innovation’ strategy to help deliver new and better medicines for people living in the world’s poorest countries
- ’Open Lab’ established with $8m seed funding for new research
- 13,500 malaria compounds to be made freely available
- New collaborations to share intellectual property for neglected tropical diseases
- Pledge to create sustainable pricing model for world’s most advanced malaria candidate vaccine
- GSK African Malaria Partnership awards four new grants worth $2.5m
Andrew Witty, Chief Executive of GlaxoSmithKline, today announced a series of new initiatives targeted at further transforming the company’s approach to diseases that disproportionately affect the world’s poorest countries. His announcements build on commitments made in 2009 to work in partnership, expand access to medicines and encourage new research into neglected tropical diseases.
In a speech given at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, Mr Witty said: “Since I took over at GSK I have been focused on changing the business model for the company to improve performance. But equally important is the imperative to earn the trust of society, not just by meeting expectations, but by exceeding them.
“We want to be a company that is truly a partner in addressing the healthcare challenges in the world’s poorest countries, no matter how difficult they are. A restless company, never satisfied with what it has achieved, but always looking for ways of doing more.
“The measures we have announced today are characterised by a determination to be more flexible, open and willing to learn. We are working with world-class partners to find new business models to expand access to medicines and deliver unique solutions in all the communities where we work.
“GSK has the capability to make a difference and a genuine appetite to change the landscape of healthcare for the world’s poorest people.”
One of GSK’s partners, Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), welcomed the announcements. MMV is a not-for-profit foundation dedicated to reducing the burden of malaria in disease-endemic countries. For the past seven years, it has invested significant financial resources, manpower and intellectual property into the partnership with GSK to develop new, innovative medicines for malaria.
Dr Timothy Wells, Chief Scientific Officer of the Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), said: “At MMV we are proud to be associated with GSK’s new initiatives, which have the potential to dramatically alter the way the world approaches research and development for neglected diseases.”
By sharing the data from the MMV-GSK screening collaboration, the research community can start to build up a public repository of knowledge that should be as powerful as the human genome databases and could set a new trend to revolutionise the urgent search for new medicines to tackle malaria.”
‘Open Lab’ established with $8m seed funding for new research
Building on the promise last year to share its resources, GSK has today announced the establishment of the first ever ‘Open Lab’ to act as an engine room of scientific innovation for neglected tropical diseases.
GSK has created capacity for up to 60 scientists from around the world to have access to the ‘Open Lab’ which will be based at the company’s research centre at the Tres Cantos Campus, Spain. The Tres Cantos Campus is a GSK-owned and operated facility dedicated to the research and development of new medicines for diseases of the developing world.
In the ‘Open Lab’, scientists will be encouraged to tap into the expertise, knowledge and infrastructure of the company, while pursuing their own projects as part of an integrated drug discovery team. GSK will establish a not-for-profit foundation with an initial seed investment of $8m to help fund the research and facilitate better sharing of knowledge and ideas.
13,500 malaria compounds to be made freely available
GSK has screened its pharmaceutical compound library of more than 2 million molecules for any that may inhibit the malaria parasite P.falciparum, the deadliest form of malaria, which is found primarily in sub-Saharan Africa. This exercise took five scientists a year to complete, and has yielded more than 13,500 compounds that could lead to the development of new and innovative treatments for malaria, which kills at least one million children every year in Africa.
GSK will make these findings, including the chemical structures and associated assay data, freely available to the public via leading scientific websites. The release of these data will mark the first time that a pharmaceutical company has made public the structures of so many of its compounds in the hope that they could lead to new medicines for malaria.
New collaborations to share intellectual property for neglected tropical diseases
Building upon its commitments to create a ‘knowledge pool’ for neglected tropical diseases, GSK today announced that governance of the ‘knowledge pool’ will be taken over by an independent third party, BIO Ventures for Global Health (BVGH).
GSK and BVGH have also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Emory Institute for Drug Discovery (EIDD) to join the pool and further open up knowledge, chemical libraries, and other assets in the search for new medicines for neglected tropical diseases.
A second collaboration has also been established with South Africa firm iThemba Pharmaceuticals. This work will help research and discovery into new medicines to treat tuberculosis.
New pledge to create sustainable pricing model for world’s most advanced malaria candidate vaccine
GSK also outlined the sustainable approach it has developed to price RTS,S, the world’s most advanced malaria candidate vaccine. RTS,S is currently in pivotal Phase III trials across seven African countries. GSK and its partners are optimistic that the trials will lead to the first registered vaccine against malaria.
The pricing model will cover the cost of the vaccine together with a small return which will be fully reinvested into research and development for second-generation malaria vaccines, or vaccines for other neglected tropical diseases. This will ensure sustainable long-term commitment to the malaria and neglected tropical disease research programme.
GSK African Malaria Partnership awards four new grants worth $2.5m
The GSK African Malaria Partnership was established in 2001 to improve the prevention and access to treatment of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa. Since then over $3m has been invested to combat the disease.
Today, the GSK African Malaria Partnership announced new grants totaling $2.5m to four NGOs working in Africa. These are:
- Save the Children - projects in Kenya
- Family Health International – projects in Ghana
- African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF) – projects in Tanzania
- Planned Parenthood Foundation of Nigeria – projects in Nigeria
GlaxoSmithKline – one of the world’s leading research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare companies – is committed to improving the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer. For further information please visit www.gsk.com.
Notes to editors
1. Full text of the speech ‘Open Labs, Open Minds: Breaking Down Barriers to Innovation and Access to Medicines in the Developing World’ can be found on www.gsk.com.
2. The speech was given to the Council on Foreign Relations on 20 January 2010.
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