Inaccurate: GSK launches 50% discount for uninsured

Editor's Note: A GSK spokesperson has informed FiercePharma that this story is based on an incorrect press release that was published in error. GSK is not offering a 50 percent discount to uninsured patients, but already has prescription assistance plans in place. You can find more information at www.gskforyou.com.

Andrew Witty puts charity to work again. The GlaxoSmithKline CEO, who's already pledged to slash prices for drugs sold in poor countries, now is offering a 50 percent discount on meds for U.S. patients who are uninsured. The discount-card program applies to anyone under 65 who doesn't have insurance, and patients will have access to it until they get employer-sponsored coverage or until health reform takes care of their insurance problems, whichever comes first. No income restrictions apply, either.

Deirdre Connelly, Glaxo's U.S. pharma president, explains, "We feel this is simply the right thing to do, especially in this economy." Apparently, "the right thing to do" has been much on Witty's mind; as you know, he's has been on something of a good-boy binge. He's pledged to disclose payments to doctors and to limit them, too, and also promised to publish info on Glaxo's support for medical societies. Then there was the push for price cuts in poor countries. And now this.

We could point out the many legitimate business reasons behind such initiatives. A discount card could lure patients to Glaxo meds and away from competing products. The poor-country price cuts won't be that costly, analysts say, and the goodwill Glaxo gains probably will outweigh that cost. And on the disclosure side, Glaxo has simply jumped on a bandwagon that was already moving. And if we were completely cynical about it, we could say that all these programs are a calculated effort to burnish the drugmaker's image at a time when pharma isn't the best-liked industry on the planet.

But we'd like to believe that Witty, et al., aren't just focused on the business calculus here. Perhaps Glaxo-the-corporation can't "care" about people, but maybe some of its leaders can--and do. What are your thoughts? Cynical or sentimental? Let us know.

- read the Glaxo's release

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