The California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS), the nation's largest pension fund, decided Monday not to send a "stern" letter to officials at drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline asking the company to prepare a report on making cheap anti-HIV drugs available in developing nations. CalPERS, which owns about $760 million in Glaxo stock, has been in a long-running battle with Glaxo over the availability and pricing of its antiretroviral drugs in developing nations.
In April the investment fund urged Glaxo to reevaluate the pricing of its antiretroviral drugs based on humanitarian principles, and two weeks later Glaxo cut the price of its anti-HIV drugs by as much as 47% for 63 poor countries.
The proposed letter, which was rejected by the CalPERS investment committee on a 6-5 vote, also would have called on Glaxo to respond to a ruling by South Africa's Competition Commission that the company charges too much for its anti-HIV medications and that it refuses to allow generic firms to make cheaper copies of its drugs. The commission ruled that both Glaxo and Boehringer Ingelheim be forced to allow generic licenses in exchange for modest royalties; both companies last week announced agreements to allow four companies to make cheap versions of their patented drugs for use in South Africa.