GlaxoSmithKline and AIDS Drugs Policy

By David Baron, Soon Jin Lim, Deborah Liu
2003 | Case No. P39
In Africa GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) confronted the reality of the AIDS crisis every day, and its decisions impacted thousands. There were no ready answers to the crisis, but everyone—governments, non-governmental organizations, the media, shareholders, and others—had an opinion. GSK had to determine how to address the crisis while maintaining business viability in developing countries in the midst of the pressures swirling around it. Throughout the late 1990s, the CEO of GSK, Stanford Graduate School of Business alumnus Dr. Jean-Pierre Garnier, was at the forefront of the controversy over anti-retroviral drug pricing, patent protection, and drug access. Proactive in addressing critics, he was seen as the de facto spokesperson for the pharmaceutical industry in addressing these critical issues. He responded to the criticism by speaking out at every opportunity, including writing two letters to the editor of the Financial Times to clarify the industry position on drug pricing, research and development costs and drug access. These communications set the tone for the company and its worldwide operations.
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