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Price of HIV/AIDS Medicine Combivir Lowered for the Developing World

PHILADELPHIA, April 28 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK; London) today announced that it has further reduced the not-for-profit prices of its HIV/AIDS medicines for the world's poorest countries by up to 47%. The latest reduction lowers the not-for-profit price of Combivir -- the backbone of WHO-recommended HIV/AIDS treatment regimens -- to 90 cents per day.

The price reductions are made possible by continuing improvements to GSK's HIV/AIDS drugs manufacturing process, and economies of scale achieved. They reflect GSK's continuing commitment to improve healthcare in the developing world through preferential pricing, community investment, and research and development of new medicines and vaccines to fight disease.

"These price cuts demonstrate our commitment to making vital medicines more affordable through sustainable preferential pricing," said Jean-Pierre Garnier, CEO of GlaxoSmithKline. "In June 2001, when we expanded our access programme, we promised to continue to find ways to reduce costs and pass those savings on to patients. We did that in September 2002, and today we are again delivering on our promise."

In addition to Combivir, GSK has also today reduced the not-for-profit price of many of its other HIV/AIDS medicines. For example, Epivir (3TC) is now available at 35 cents per day, and Retrovir (AZT) at 75 cents per day -- reductions of 45% and 38% respectively.

GSK's single, not-for-profit prices are available to a wide range of customers in the Least Developed Countries and all of sub-Saharan Africa --a total of 63 countries. Eligible customer groups include governments, Non-governmental organisations (NGOs), aid agencies, UN agencies and international purchase funds like the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. In recognition of the gravity of the HIV/AIDS situation in sub-Saharan Africa, employers who offer HIV/AIDS care and treatment to uninsured staff are also eligible for GSK's not-for-profit prices for antiretrovirals.

In response to the announcement, Richard Feachem, Executive Director of The Global Fund said, "The Global Fund welcomes this announcement as another step towards dramatically expanded access of antiretrovirals to the millions of people who need them. Continued price discounts are an important contribution of GSK's leadership and partnership with the Global Fund; this must be matched by increased resources to finance the purchase of medications, as well as commitments by public and civil society partners at the local level to ensure their effective delivery."

Secretary of Health and Human Services, United States, Tommy G. Thompson said, "It is important that those suffering from AIDS in the developing world have access to helpful prescription drugs, and Glaxo's move is a step in the right direction."

United States Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, M.D., a leader in Global AIDS advocacy who has done medical missionary work on his travels in Africa, said, "I commend GSK for its continued leadership in lowering the cost of life-saving drug therapies. The global pandemic of AIDS cannot be conquered without the active participation of private companies. GSK's initiative is an excellent example of the critical contribution that corporations can make and helps challenge others in the private sector to do their part. It is also a strong reminder that the governments of the world's more prosperous countries must provide the resources to assure that drugs and other health care services reach those in need."

Garnier continued, "We are proud of what we have achieved to date in terms of increased shipments of preferentially-priced HIV/AIDS medicines to patients in the developing world. But we want to work with our partners to do more to address the HIV/AIDS pandemic. We recognise and welcome the commitment shown by others. The Global Fund, President Bush's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, the World Bank, the Gates Foundation, and other organisations are beginning to provide the funding to help patients in the developing world get access to the medicines they so desperately need. Such funding, and the long-term orders they encourage, is essential to build the demand and economies of scale needed to underpin price reductions.

"A significant increase in resources is still needed. Other actions are also required. Improved healthcare in the developing world can only be delivered if the significant barriers that stand in the way of better access are tackled as a shared responsibility by all sectors of global society -- governments, international agencies, charities, academic institutions, the pharmaceutical industry and others. The forthcoming G8 meeting in Evian presents an early opportunity for the developed world to demonstrate its commitment and leadership in addressing this global challenge," Garnier said.

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