The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Save the Children, drug company GSK announce new partnership to save children's lives

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NAIROBI, Kenya - GlaxoSmithKline is giving Save the Children $23 million and entering into a five-year partnership with the charity to try to save the lives of 1 million children.

The chief executives of the two groups visited a remote health clinic in Kenya on Thursday where they spoke to a mother who said she had three children die of diarrhea.

Justin Forsyth, the head of Save the Children, said the mother told him and GSK chief executive Andrew Witty that she was devastated by the deaths, but was happy that her 5-year-old daughter was getting treatment for pneumonia.

"That story is the story globally. We see far too many children dying from diarrhea, but we've also turned a corner," Forsyth said.

Witty said GSK, one of the world's leading drug makers, has been working to increase expanded access to medicine over the last five to six years, an approach he said has high shareholder support.

One initiative in the new partnership is to transform an antiseptic used in mouthwash into a lifesaving product to prevent infections when umbilical cords are cut. Another is an accelerated rollout of a child-friendly antibiotic used to treat pneumonia.

"We need to make sure we are making available to the best of our availability our strengths and talents not only for folks who live in rich countries but wherever there are needs," Witty said.

Forsyth said he used to campaign against GSK when "they kept the prices very high for AIDS drugs." But he said GSK has changed and is now at the forefront in terms of access to medicine and investment in malaria vaccines.

Save the Children will also have a seat on a GSK research and development board for pediatric medicine.

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