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GlaxoSmithKline CEO Andrew Witty Discusses Open Innovation Strategy at Academy

Academy CEO Ellis Rubinstein moderated a meeting among Witty and science bloggers.

Published January 20, 2010

GlaxoSmithKline CEO Andrew Witty this morning announced to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York several new initiatives that his company will pursue to help deliver new and better medicines to treat neglected tropical diseases in the world's least developed countries. Following his speech at the Council, Witty met with science bloggers who were gathered at the New York Academy of Sciences for a press conference moderated by Academy CEO Ellis Rubinstein.

Witty's announcements build on commitments he made a year ago to work in partnership to expand access to medicines and encourage new research in neglected diseases.

GSK's new initiatives include:
* Dedicating $8 million in seed funding to establish an Open Lab at GSK's research center in Tres Cantos, Spain, where up to 60 scientists will have access to GSK industrial technologies to pursue development of treatments for neglected tropical diseases;
* Releasing for public access 13,500 compounds that GSK researchers have manually screened and identified to have potential to inhibit the malaria parasite P. falciparum;
* Transferring governance of its "knowledge pool" for neglected tropical diseases to an independent third party, BIO Ventures for Global Health, and signing a memorandum of understanding with the Emory Institute for Drug Discovery to join the pool and further open up knowledge, chemical libraries, and other assets in the search for new medicines for neglected tropical diseases;
* Pledging to create a sustainable pricing model—to cover costs plus a small return that would be fully reinvested into R&D for future vaccines—for GSK's malaria candidate vaccine, RTS,S, which is presently in late-stage trials across seven African countries.

Witty told the bloggers that GSK's commitment to pursuing and promoting external development of cures for neglected tropical diseases is based in part on his personal view that there is a tremendous humanitarian need, and on GSK's interest in continuing to build and engender society's trust in the pharmaceutical industry. "We've got to start freeing things up a bit to make progress," Witty said.