GlaxoSmithKline has announced plans to slash the prices of essential drugs in Kenya and other developing countries as part of a strategy to improve patient access to medicines.

GSK East Africa managing director John Musunga said at a briefing that the Kenyan unit would cut prices of essential drugs by as much as 50% to boost volumes.

Drugs include Avamys, an asthma medication, which has already dropped 40% in price since last year.

According to Musunga, “GSK is shifting its focus from a high-margin, low-volume drive to a lower margin, high business model, the high prices of medicines have been a key barrier to patients accessing quality medicines.

“Reducing prices of antibiotics, asthma medicines and dewormers will enable poor households to afford quality medication within their meagre budgets,” he said.

The director also cited the high cost of drugs as a factor behind the proliferation of counterfeit medicines that pose a major health risk to patients who use them without knowing their dangers and harmful effects.