Andrew Witty, emerging-markets guru

Ever wonder why GlaxoSmithKline CEO Andrew Witty is so interested in Africa? Well, it might be that time in Johannesburg just before Nelson Mandela was elected president. It was 1994, and the political situation was so tense there that Glaxo's staff was stockpiling food in case of civil war, the New York Times reports. Witty, then head of the office there, worked to reassure his staff--and then Mandela was elected and democracy celebrated.

There and in other emerging markets where he worked--China, India, Myanmar, Pakistan, Vietnam--Witty noticed how resilient people were. They had "just unbelievable energy to self-improve, to lift themselves up."

Well, as you know, Witty is trying to help them up now, too. Initiatives that don't cost Glaxo a huge amount of money--such as slashing prices for the poorest patients--can help a lot in these countries, he believes. "They deserve their chance," he told the Times in an interview.

Apparently other Big Pharmas have decided they agree; in the last month or so, both Sanofi-Aventis and Pfizer have cut their prices in the developing world, too. Is Witty leading the way? Well, the other companies may have come to the same conclusions--and cut those prices--all on their own. But then again, maybe not.

- read the Times story

ALSO: Italy wants to stop GlaxoSmithKline from cutting jobs at a research center in the northern city of Verona, news agency Ansa reported, citing Labor Minister Maurizio Sacconi. Report