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By Sumana Narayanan
Published: Tuesday 31 March 2009

Pharmaceutical company's mantra for developing new malaria drugs

pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (gsk) has proposed a patent pool to boost research for and development of new drugs related to neglected tropical diseases like malaria and cholera. A patent pool would give third party researchers easy access to patented processes and formulas. This will help them develop new drugs and treatment. The company's ceo, Andrew Witty, said gsk would contribute its patents to the research pool and asked other pharmaceutical companies to do the same. There was a rider--the pool will only be for least developed countries. hiv/aids has been kept out of the voluntary patent pool.

Public health organizations said gsk's move was welcome but not enough. Advocacy group Doctors Without Borders said hiv treatment should be included in the pool as there was a need for inexpensive hiv drugs. gsk said they are excluding hiv because they want to focus on diseases that lack research.

The patent pool should not be restricted to ldc countries, believe non-profits. "There are so many people in countries like India who need treatment for these diseases," said Gopakumar of Centre for Trade and Development.

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