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Settembre 22, 2003

Bill Gates and Big Pharma

 

 

Categories
Repubblica.it/News

Manhica, 15:42
Bill Gates dona 168 mln dollari a suo centro contro malariaIl presidente della Microsoft, Bill Gates, ha donato 168 milioni di dollari per combattere la malaria a un centro da lui stesso fondato in Mozambico. "E'ora di trattare l'epidemia di malaria in Africa per quella grave crisi che è": sta privando l'Africa della sua gente e del suo potenziale prosciugando i bilanci e aumentando la povertà . (red)


Forse vi eravate persi qualcosa a proposito dell'uomo piu' ricco del mondo amichetto di Bush? leggete il seguente articolo del The Wall Street Journal (inglese). Gates Charity Buys Stakes In Drug Makers
By David Bank and Rebecca Buckman

05/17/2002
The Wall Street Journal
Page B1
(Copyright (c) 2002, Dow Jones & Company, Inc.)

THE BILL AND MELINDA Gates Foundation has purchased shares in nine big pharmaceutical companies valued at nearly $205 million -- an investment likely to attract attention more for its symbolism than its size.
The foundation, the nation's largest with an endowment of $24.2 billion from Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates and his wife, already is a major force in international health issues, contributing $555 million in 2000 alone to global health programs. The organization has emerged as a prominent voice in the debate over how to supply cheaper drugs for AIDS and other diseases to poor countries. At times, it has assumed the role of a broker between poor nations and drug companies.

Now, as an investor in Merck & Co., Pfizer Inc., Johnson & Johnson and others, the Gates foundation has a financial interest in common with makers of AIDS drugs, diagnostic tools, vaccines and other drugs. The stock purchases are a new type of investment for the foundation: In the past it held primarily bonds and other nonequity investments.

Joe Cerrell, a spokesman for the Seattle-based Gates foundation, says the stock investments, reported this week in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, are independent of the foundation's programs. Indeed, they might just be good investments, as beaten-down drug stocks are generally cheap these days. The stocks were chosen by money manager Michael Larson, who selects investments for the foundation and for Mr. Gates personally through an entity called Cascade Investment LLC. Mr. Larson, through a spokesman, declined to comment about the rationale.

The foundation's investments in "Big Pharma" could spur controversy, given Mr. Gates' staunch support of strict intellectual-property protections for drugs in poor countries. Mr. Gates' stance on intellectual property is as important to Microsoft's software business as it is to drugmakers.

"The impression people have, because of the types of projects Gates has funded and because of his Microsoft background, is that he has an ax to grind on the intellectual property front," says James Love, director of the Consumer Project on Technology, who works with African officials to obtain low-cost drugs.

Poor countries have sometimes threatened to seize patents in order to produce affordable generic drugs for sick citizens, making the field of intellectual-property law a flash point between pharmaceutical companies and poor countries. At a meeting in Africa last year, Mr. Love says he was struck by fears of officials from Botswana and elsewhere that pressing for access to generic drugs could jeopardize their chances for contributions. "They thought it would alienate the Gates foundation and they thought that was a problem," Mr. Love says.

A report issued last year by the Commission on Macroeconomics and Health, chaired by economist Jeffrey Sachs, made a strong defense of intellectual-property protection as critical to continued investment in drug research and development. The Gates foundation was a major sponsor of the commission.

Other people involved with the issue say medical progress in poor countries depends on incentives for drug makers, and the Gates foundation is balancing the tradeoffs responsibly. "For every major killer of the poor, we need better drugs, better diagnostics and better vaccines," says Richard Feachem, director of the Institute for Global Health at the University of California, San Francisco. "That means massive investments in research and development. Much of that has to come from Big Pharma and biotech companies."

The foundation's Mr. Cerrell dismisses as "speculative" the suggestion of conflict between financing drugs and investing in stocks. He says adds that pharmaceutical makers "play an important part in meeting our goals of providing equity and access and lifesaving vaccines and other advances in medicine to those who need it most."

Managing the foundation's multiplying ties with the drug industry could get tricky. For example, through its funding for the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations, the foundation pays for purchases of vaccines from some of the same pharmaceutical makers in which it now owns shares. A Gates foundation representative sits on the 18-member board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which is expected to become a major buyer of drugs to fight those diseases. The foundation has pledged $100 million to the fund, which has so far collected $2.2 billion. UC's Mr. Feachem, recently appointed to head the Geneva-based fund, argues that its massive buying power could create a strong "pull factor" spurring drug makers to develop inexpensive products. "For the industry, that would lead to the development of a high-volume, low-margin market, which could be a win for them as well," he says.

Mr. Gates has forged other ties with the industry. Microsoft last year named Merck Chief Executive Raymond Gilmartin to its board of directors. Mr. Gates worked with Mr. Gilmartin to launch the vaccine fund and also helped Merck with an AIDS program in Botswana.

The foundation's stock holdings include just two other stocks: Cox Communications Inc. and Waste Management Inc. The spokesman for Mr. Larson, the money manager, confirms that the drug investments represent a significant increase in the foundation's equity holdings, though they represent less than 1% of its total portfolio.

---
Building Bridges

The Gates Foundation's top five stock investments in pharmaceutical firms, in millions:

Company Stake

Merck $76.9
Pfizer $37.3
J & J $29.7
Wyeth $12.7
Abbott Labs $11.9

Note: Figures based on Thursday's closing price

Source: SEC filing Fonte:http://lists.essential.org/pipermail/ip-health/2002-May/003044.html

 


mandato da Ivan Ingrilli il Lunedì Settembre 22 2003
aggiornato il Sabato Settembre 24 2005

URL of this article:
http://www.communicationagents.com/ivaningrilli/2003/09/22/bill_gates_and_big_pharma.htm

 


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