Pharma at the UN General Assembly

The United Nations General Assembly gets underway in earnest this week in New York and the Millennium Development Goals for 2015 will get special attention on Wednesday.

The goals were:

GlaxoSmithKline's Duncan Learmouth

1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

2. Achieve universal primary education

3. Promote gender equality and empower women

4. Reduce child mortality

5. Improve maternal health

6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases

7. Ensure environmental sustainability

8. Develop a global partnership for development

Health is connected to all eight goals, but pharmaceutical companies have the closest links to Nos. 4, 5 and 6.

On Monday, UNAIDS released a report (here) that says there was a 52% reduction in new HIV infections among children and a combined 33% reduction among adults and children since 2001.

GlaxoSmithKline's Duncan Learmouth, who is the drugmaker's senior vice president for developing countries and market access, hopes that pharmaceutical companies will be listened to a bit more at this gathering than they were when efforts began to meet the goals.

"Post 2015, the issue will be how we take the learning from the first round and apply it to 2016 and beyond," Learmouth said last week after arriving in New York from his office in London. "In the previous MGD, there was very little role for the private sector, and not much recognition of the contribution. That's part of why I wanted to be here, to support pharma and GSK, in particular, to be more of an equal partner."

Much progress has been made in stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS and malaria since 2000, though each disease remains a big problem in several of areas of the world.

"Those have been significant successes, and galvanized the global health network," Learmouth said.

GSK is based in London, but has operations in Philadelphia and the surrounding region.