Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Here is the email I received this morning from Glasko Smith Kline - below is my response. All I want is to keep them honest!

Mr.Richard Fleming
Project Director
The Dhaka Project
Galwair, Dhaka

Dear Sir

Thank you for your letter requesting special discount for our vaccines. We are aware that you are involved in serving the ultra poor children of Bangladesh. We appreciate your noble gestures.

As you know GSK is also committed in serving the distress humanity by investing in community partnership in different forms worldwide. We will put your request of special discount to our higher authority and let you know in time the results.

However, we are informed by our office that some of your bills are lying outstanding. We shall be pleased if you please arrange to pay the bills at an early date.

Assuring of our best services at all times, we remain.

Kind Regards

Md.Moynul Islam
Sales Manager
GlaxoSmithKline Bangladesh Ltd

Thank you very much for your email. I appreciate your words. I also appreciate you telling me that GSK is also committed in serving the distress humanity by investing in community partnership in different forms worldwide.

But I think we have had a communication breakdown through your team member who visited me last week. I have no issue with paying the outstanding bill. That is not the issue at hand. I am very disappointed that your colleague Mr Mustafa was not able to articulate the issue that I personally expressed to him about GSK.

Please let me articulate to you the issue I have:

As you are no doubt aware, I am a foreigner here in your wonderful country. I have come here from my comfortable life in Sydney, Australia to help your people. I am here to help you and your people to succeed - I want to see a Bangladesh without poverty, a Bangladesh without beggars, a Bangladesh where all citizens have opportunities to work and care for their family, a Bangladesh where multiple thousands do not die when a natural disaster strikes, a Bangladesh where the poor do not die from immunisable diseases

Please correct me if I am wrong but I have assumed by your name that you are Bangladeshi. I ask you do you not dream of seeing your Bangladesh the way I envisage it?

My issue is that I was saddened to find out during my meeting with your colleague last week was that you were making profit off the immunisations that you sell to the ultra-poor, he gave me details to say that each typhoid immunisation costs GSK (inc tax and marketing etc) 338.5tk to get to the customer and your initial price you quoted us at The Dhaka Project was 450tk . I am worried that you at GSK Bangladesh do not care for people - to me it only seems like profit is an issue.

I asked your colleague to either provide me with the details of how much each of your injections cost to get to the customer and if the case then proudly say why you make profit off selling it to people helping the ultra-poor;
Or provide me with an opportunity to sit down and discuss this issue with your Bangladesh CEO or someone who might want to take an interest in helping the 60 million people who live below the poverty line.

I again reiterate - I do not want a personal Dhaka Project discount and I have no issue with paying the bill that is outstanding. I have an issue with people who say that they are committed in serving the distress humanity by investing in community partnership in different forms worldwide. However do not show actions to these words.

I assure you that I say all this as I want to help your organisation, your country and the 60 million people living below the poverty line in distress.

I leave you with one final thought - What is more important? That you received your monthly bonus at the end of the month or that through your pricing policy meant that 1000 Bangladeshis died of immunisable diseases that month?

I look forward to seeing actions.

Richard Fleming
Project Director, Dhaka
The Dhaka Project


Pierre said...

Yeah Boy!!
Go get 'em Rich, love your work.

iamagloworm said...

Next come the Today Tonight threats. Bring them to their knees!

Erin said...

hi rich, having worked for some time for a drug company (yes evil me, but hey i'm STILL trying to make up for it) i can safely say that they are driven ONLY by profit - no matter what fancy phrases they come up with.

GSK Bangladesh is a small part of the larger GSK. Drug development being driven as it is by profit, Bangladesh is not high on their or other drug companies' radars (poor people and their massive health problems do not represent a market). The trick is (for them) to use these countries to explore new drugs and vaccines by conducting trials because it way way cheaper for them. This means that sometimes your best chance of getting a drug or treatment to the people is to encourage companies to put them into a clinical trial.

Sadly there is no other way to access these drugs because patent laws won't allow other companies to make approved generic verions. Which is why moves towards compulsory licensing of drugs to developing countries who have the need but not the funds to provide health care is so important.

I better stop my drug company rant because I could go on all day but if you need any help navigating the evil drug company world I'm here for you man. It might be worth hooking up with some doctor who could do a "trial" of much needed vaccinations for free??

Keep on kickin' ass.

Lach said...

Rich, from my own very limited exposure to this area I think you were quite fortunate to have the company rep actually reveal the true cost price to you.. Im also surprised they haven't wheeled out the old, 'without making a profit we couldn't do the R&D to make the drugs in the first place' excuse, although Im sure it will come soon enough if you push the issue. I'll be very interested to see how this progresses mate, let me know if I can help.