Non-government organisations (NGO's) ; Non-market competition ; Ethics ; Pharmaceutical ; AIDS ; Patents; South Africa; Pharmaceutical; Largest pharmaceutical company in the world, more than 100,000 employees; 2001-2004
This is the first of a four-case series (IMD-3-1496 to IMD-3-1499). The case describes the interactions among pharmaceutical companies, non- government organisations (NGO's), and governments in the context of the AIDS epidemic in South Africa. Oxfam singled out GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) as the target for its new campaign, 'Cut the Cost'. The goal was to hit where it would hurt the most - GSK's share price. At the same time other NGO's also went after GSK. For GSK the situation in South Africa was extremely delicate. The ultimate issues were patent and price protection globally. The pharmaceutical companies were afraid that cheap generic drugs could flood the West, undermining the entire pricing structure and their ability to fund new research. Defending the patents and prices seemed essential. Yet, fighting the NGO's could bring negative publicity and, ultimately, be self-defeating. Meanwhile, millions of people were dying of AIDS in South Africa.